Saturday, December 19, 2009

Climate deal 'damaging' to poor nations, Filipina expert says

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Climate deal 'damaging' to poor nations, Filipina expert says
By YASMIN ARQUIZA, GMANews.TV12/19/2009 08:57 AM

COPENHAGEN (Updated 3 a.m. Saturday, Denmark time) – A last-minute agreement brokered by US President Barack Obama during the closing hours of the climate summit here Friday does not provide enough financing for poor countries that stand to suffer the most from the negative impact of climate change, a Filipina expert negotiator said.

“It’s damaging to the interests of developing nations," said Bernarditas Castro-Muller, a retired Filipina diplomat who serves as the coordinator for G-77 and China, the largest negotiating bloc of developing nations in the talks.

She said the agreement did not put in place the proper financing and technology transfer arrangements that would allow poor countries to adapt to climate change.

The informal Copenhagen Accord, which did not go through the normal negotiating procedures of the United Nations-sponsored conference, states: “The collective commitment by developed countries is to provide new and additional resources amounting to 30 billion dollars for the period 2010 – 2012 with balance allocation between adaptation and mitigation, including forestry and new and additional investments through international institutions.

"Priority for the funds would be “the most vulnerable developing countries, such as the least developed countries, small island developing states and countries in Africa."Specific pledges to the fund so far are $10.6 billion from the European community, $11 billion from Japan, and $3.6 billion from the United States, according to the document.

The agreement also set a goal of $100 billion in funding “from a wide variety of sources" by 2020 to provide the needs of developing countries, but Muller said most of these would come from loans and does not address the need to “pay the climate debt" of rich nations that have polluted the atmosphere for many generations.

While recognizing the scientific view that increases in global temperature should not go beyond 2 degrees Celsius to avert dangerous climate change, the agreement did not specify any targets for emission reductions from any country. Instead, it simply states, “We should cooperate in achieving the peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible." Muller assailed the manner by which world leaders produced the agreement, saying “it’s the result of a non-transparent process.

"Negotiators from 192 countries have been working for two years to produce an agreement beyond 2012, when the first period of binding targets on emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol expires. However, there were still many sticking points by the time world leaders flew into Copenhagen for the high-level segment of the talks this week.One of the few carbon-cutting measures in the agreement is the support for “positive incentives" on actions for a mechanism known as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in developing countries.

The agreement included a table of voluntary mitigation pledges from 11 countries that do not have binding targets under the Kyoto protocol including the Philippines, which committed to reduce emissions by 5 per cent but did not indicate any time frame.

Not legally binding

In a news conference at around 11 p.m. Friday where he announced the agreement, Mr. Obama said he worked all day with the leaders of Ethiopia (representing Africa), China, Brazil, India, and South Africa to come up with the deal.

He had an additional meeting in the evening with the four big developing countries, "and that's where we agreed to list our national actions and commitments, to provide information on the implementation of these actions through national communications, with international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines," Mr. Obama said.

"The way this agreement is structured, each nation will be putting concrete commitments into an appendix to the document, and so will lay out very specifically what each country’s intentions are," he added.Mr. Obama said the national commitments would be subjected to "international consultation and analysis" to track the progress of each country.

"It will not be legally binding, but what it will do is allow for each country to show to the world what they're doing, and there will be a sense on the part of each country that we're in this together, and we'll know who is meeting and who's not meeting the mutual obligations that have been set forth," he said.

It is unclear how the UN conference would decide on the agreement, which essentially sidelined the negotiating documents containing binding targets for industrialized countries after 2010, when the first round of commitments for the Kyoto protocol expires.

Mr. Obama left right after the conference, saying US negotiators would finish other tasks needed at the conference.

"The challenge here was that for a lot of countries, particularly those emerging countries that are still in different stages of development, this is going to be the first time in which even voluntarily they offered up mitigation targets," he told the news conference with US media. "And I think that it was important to essentially get that shift in orientation moving, that's what I think will end up being most significant about this accord."

"It is still going to require more work and more confidence-building and greater trust between emerging countries, the least developed countries, and the developed countries before I think you are going to see another legally binding treaty signed," he added.

"I actually think that it's necessary for us ultimately to get to such a treaty, and I am supportive of such efforts. But this is a classic example of a situation where if we just waited for that, then we would not make any progress," Mr. Obama said.

The agreement immediately drew criticism from environment advocates, even as marchers noisily marched to Bella Center in the midnight snow to protest the turn of events.

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