Two Elephants at UNFCCC

Yesterday two elephants elbowed and bullied their way into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s ballroom and expropriated the dance song. United States and China, the two biggest emitters of GHGs (Green House Gases), together with South Africa and India, came up with their own “Copenhagen Accord” and hoped to convince the rest of the world to adopt it. In the words of Oxfam International, it was “a triumph of spin over substance”. The accord was non-committal on the key points that was the hope of the Convention: emissions cuts, monitoring of emissions and the binding nature of the treaty. A Sudanese diplomat, representing the Group of 77 developing countries, said the agreement “represent[s] the worst development in climate change negotiations in history.”

Well, we will know by today whether the other countries at the UNFCC will accept the accord as a fait accompli. According to a Filipino colleague of mine who is at the talks, the developing countries are “tearing” into the accord.

Meanwhile a new scientific study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, warns that sea level could rise much faster than previously expected, i.e., by the year 2100, global sea level could rise between 75 and 190 cm. Also, a number of European think tanks has jointly calculated that based on levels of emission cuts publicly announced by countries, the global level of carbon dioxide will actually rise from the present 390 part per million (PPM) to over 650 PPM, and the temperature will rise by a balmy 5 degrees Farenheit. I may yet be fishing for marine fish on my doorsteps.

In summary, I for one would like to borrow Maradona’s football diatribe: “Suck it, and keep on sucking it.”

Update (20 Dec)

The UNFCC Conference of the Parties “takes note” of the Copenhagen Accord (drawn up principally by United States, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa). One commentator said it was “be more of a letter of intent than an ambitious action plan on climate change”. Developed countries pledged a total of US$ 30 billion fast track climate fund to support and finance immediate adaptation measures for least developed countries and countries most affected by climate change from 2010 to 2012, and a further promise of mobilising US$100 billion per year by 2020.


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