Local farmers try to plant through the ongoing drought. Credit: James Akena/Oxfam
A deal can not be struck in Copenhagen without agreement from all parties

Worlds Ministers meet in Copenhagen ahead of Climate Summit

“Ministers need to show poor countries that what is on for table in Copenhagen is still worth fighting for.”
Isabel Sande Frandsen
Climate Advisor for Ibis and Oxfam International
Published: 13 November 2009

Environment Ministers from 45 countries will be gathering in Copenhagen on 16 and 17 November to map out what the global climate deal will look like.  The meeting is an important opportunity to for rich countries to get the UN Climate Summit off on the right track and show poor countries that there is still a deal worth fighting for.

A key issue on the agenda is what kind of outcome governments will aim for in Copenhagen – whether negotiators will seek to agree the cornerstones of a fair, ambitious and binding deal or put off the key decisions to 2010 or beyond. Ministers will also discuss what should be included in the deal, from institutional issues such as how to manage the climate fund, through to rich country commitments to cut emissions and provide climate finance.

With discussions dominated by Europe’s calls for delay over the last few weeks the meeting will be a crucial opportunity for poor nations to outline what kind of an agreement they will accept December.  A deal can not be struck in Copenhagen without agreement from all parties. 

Developing countries have experienced decades of broken political promises from rich countries on aid and trade. They are unlikely to agree to a climate deal which does not guarantee that rich countries will deliver on their commitments.

Poor nations will also be expecting significantly improved offers on climate finance and emissions reductions. The Group of 77 developing countries and China have called for rich countries to cut emissions by 40 percent on 1990 levels by 2020 and to provide around 1 percent of their GDP per year (about $400bn) to help poor countries adapt to a changing climate and cut emissions.

Despite two years of intense negotiations rich countries have yet to agree overall commitments to cut carbon emissions or provide climate finance - the two cornerstones of any agreement against which success or failure will ultimately be judged.

Oxfam is calling for a deal in Copenhagen that guarantees action in two key areas: binding emissions reduction targets for rich countries and a substantial ongoing financial package – which is additional to existing overseas aid commitments - to help poor countries reduce their emissions and adapt to a changing climate.  Poor countries did little to create the climate crisis but are already being hit hard by its effects.

Isabel Sande Frandsen, Climate Advisor for Ibis and Oxfam International said:
“Ministers have a real opportunity to get the UN Climate Summit off on the right track.  Ministers need to show poor countries that what is on for table in Copenhagen is still worth fighting for. That means an outcome which guarantees action in two key areas - emissions reductions for rich countries and a substantial ongoing financial package to help poor nations tackle climate change.”

While down playing the outcome ahead of international meetings is a common ploy – it was the same in the months before the Kyoto Protocol was agreed similar – Oxfam warned against putting off the difficult decisions.

 “Every week of delay will only add to the cost of the crisis in dollars and in the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest people. A fair, ambitious and binding climate deal is still possible in Copenhagen if there is the political will. If rich countries deliver on their promises they can still seal the deal in December” said Sande Frandsen.