Last chance to prevent failure in Copenhagen

Published: 16th December 2009

Oxfam International warned that world leaders have just two days to prevent failure at the climate talks in Copenhagen. The international agency warned that poor countries will not sign a weak deal and called on world leaders, who arrive in Copenhagen today, to make the big political decisions on finance and emissions reductions that are needed to turn things round.
Despite promising action two years ago in Bali, rich countries have steadfastly refused to make the sharp emissions reductions demanded by the science or provide the new money needed to help poor countries tackle climate change.
Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International said:
“Let us be under no illusion. We do not have the makings of a deal which will prevent climate catastrophe or protect the world’s most vulnerable people. These talks will fail unless rich countries deliver the money they promised two years ago to help poor countries reduce their emissions and adapt to a changing climate. Poor countries are ready to deliver on their side of the bargain – rich countries must show they are willing to do the same.”
“Like court magicians rich country negotiators are conjuring up a deal for their political masters which provides the illusion of action but delivers next to nothing of substance. Poor countries will not be fooled by spin – as they have already made clear they will not sign a suicide pact in Copenhagen.”
All the elements of a good finance deal are on the table – we don’t need new ideas or more talk. World leaders know what a fair and strong deal looks like. They have two days to make it happen.”
A flurry of finger pointing won’t deliver a deal now. Poor countries, who are fighting for climate action, should not be made scapegoats by rich countries who have led these talks to the brink of disaster.”
The outcome of two years of negotiations under two parallel negotiating tracks was published early this morning– key gaps include:
The scale of emissions reductions for rich countries (Annex 1) is creeping up towards 25%, however the proposals are riddled with loopholes. A real reduction of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 is demanded by the science.
The offers of around $10 billion per year in climate finance are a fraction of the most credible estimates of $100 billion for adaptation and $100 billion for mitigation by developing countries. A rapid scale up of funding to $200 billion per year by 2020 is needed plus a guarantee that this money will be additional to existing aid commitments.
Weaker systems of review and verification have been proposed but they do not provide the assurances that are needed. A strong system of compliance within a legally binding treaty structure is the political decision that is needed.

Read more

Seven questions – and seven answers – on climate change and Copenhagen
Oxfam International Climate Change Blog
Download the report: People-Centered Resilience: Working with vulnerable farmers towards climate change adaptation and food security

These talks will fail unless rich countries deliver the money they promised two years ago to help poor countries reduce their emissions and adapt to a changing climate.
Jeremy Hobbs
Executive Director of Oxfam International

Notes to editors

A summary of the political state of play is at

Oxfam’s Climate Advisors from around the globe are available to provide expert analysis on policy and politics of the talks. Our team of experts is liaising closely with government delegations and party to inside information on the talks.