World leaders gathered in the city center of Copenhagen holding signs that read "History will judge you". Credit: Ainhoa Goma/Oxfam International
Too much was left to be resolved in Copenhagen

UN climate negotiations need overhaul if we are to avoid 4 degrees warming

“The Copenhagen Accord is hugely disappointing but it also reveals how the traditional approach to international negotiations is both unfit for pursuing our common destiny and downright dangerous.”
Antonio Hill
Oxfam’s climate change adviser
Publicado : 21 Diciembre 2009

Stronger world leadership, a strict new timetable and relocation needed to secure a climate deal next year.

The UN climate talks must be rescued from the shambles of Copenhagen by revolutionizing the way the negotiations are carried out so that a deal can be delivered in 2010 and the chaos witnessed in Copenhagen is never repeated.

In its new report: Climate shame: get back to the table launching today, the international aid agency reviews the outcomes of the recent climate conference, the shortcomings and the missed opportunities which will send repercussions among the world’s poorest people already suffering the effects of climate change.

Too much was left to be resolved in Copenhagen but, at the moment, only two intersessional meetings are planned before reconvening at the next UN climate talks in Mexico in December. By then, an estimated 150,000 people will have died and a further 1 million displaced as a result of climate change.

Oxfam’s climate change adviser Antonio Hill said: “The Copenhagen Accord is hugely disappointing but it also reveals how the traditional approach to international negotiations, based on brinkmanship and national self-interest, is both unfit for pursuing our common destiny and downright dangerous.

“There is too much at stake for this politics-as-usual approach. We must act quickly to address the shortfalls of these negotiations so that we can make up for lost time and tackle climate change with the decisiveness and urgency needed. This cannot happen again.”

The report calls for world leaders to be more involved to cut through the deadlock and reignite delegates’ negotiations. It wants more ministerial meetings to be held between now and the Mexico summit in December, along with an outline of what must be agreed at each one – with ministers prepared to stay on until an agreement is brokered. The climate science should be updated so that the deal meets what is required to tackle climate change and the talks should have a “home” - like the trade talks in Geneva - to avoid disrupting progress. The least developed countries, meanwhile, should be given more support to ensure that the negotiations will bring a deal that is acceptable to all.

Oxfam said that existing loopholes, coupled with the lack of substance in the Accord risk rich-country emissions being higher in 2020 than in 1990, putting the world on track for a catastrophic temperature rise of almost 4 degrees C as opposed to the 2 degrees C required.  It fails to include emissions cut targets to keep temperature increases below 2 degrees C.

A further concern is that there have been no assurances that the proposed $100billion from rich countries for poor countries to adapt to climate change will not come from existing aid commitments. Moreover, Oxfam argues that this amount is just half of what is required – and could be an easily broken promise unless it comes from public sources where there would be a guarantee that the money is delivered to the right people in the right places at the right time. This would not be the case if the money were from private sources. A commitment that continuing talks will lead to a legally binding agreement is also absent.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Oxfam’s Global Ambassador who attended the talks and met with many of the key decision makers in Copenhagen said:

“The failure of the political process in Copenhagen to achieve a fair, adequate and binding deal on climate change is profoundly distressing. A higher purpose was at stake but our political leaders have proven themselves unable to rise to the challenge. We must look to the future. Our leaders must regroup, learn and make good their failure for the sake of humanity’s failure.”

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Oxfam's report : Climate shame: get back to the table: Initial analysis of the Copenhagen climate talks