Friday, December 18, 2009

President Obama Live Blog from COP15 Copenhagen

In a few moments, I'll live-blog Pres. Obama's talk at the COP15 climate change meetings in Copenhagen. I'm still here in Copenhagen. Little sleep over the past week, following events inside and outside of the Bella Center, the conference venue. I'm here as a delegate from a thinktank, doing some work for a second thinktank.

Late night agreement among world leaders staying up late at the Bella Center. The agreement doesn't break new ground from what I've seen thus far. Significant financial commitment for the adaptation/mitigation financing of developing countries' efforts. Will also commit to 2 degrees Celsius warming limit, the mean temperature target over which, it is predicted by various scientific assessments including those of the IPCC, the world risks dangerous climate change. A 2-degree increase already entails significant effects of climate change. Developing countries, with Tuvalu's and the Maldives' passionate pleas, prefer 1.5 degree Celsius limit. That's not going to be the agreement. 2 degrees means a likely 85% in global emissions reductions by 2050.

All conference long, we've awaited this final day of the conference and particularly the appearance of Pres. Obama. Everyone. Remember the lofty hopes for Obama just before the elections one year ago? Some similar sentiments internationally at the Bella Center this week.

Pres. Obama is not expected to offer anything more than what's already on the table, including the US commitment announced yesterday by Sec. of State Hillary Clinton to help build a $100 billion per year adaptation fund for developing countries by 2020. The agreement hammered out last night with lead taken by French president Sarkozy, Brazilian president Lula, Gordon Brown of the UK, added developed nation commitment to $50 billion fund by 2015. Short-term, the fund will be $10 billion over the next three years. Likely more since Japan's announcement two days ago of substantial funding. EU will add $3.6 billion. US will commit its "fair share." $1 billion already committed by US to REDD, the program that will be included in the post-Kyoto UNFCCC climate change agreement, to eliminate deforestation. This latter program is perhaps the biggest achievement of the Copenhagen meetings, thus far.

For its part, China last night agreed to further international transparency measures regarding carbon emissions reductions measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) within China, one of the main demands on China coming from the US, EU, and other countries. This will occur likely through national reporting program already in place under the Kyoto Protocol. But there are different requirements in KP made of developed (Annex I) and developing countries on reporting. Very loose under KP for developing countries; much more exact for Annex I countries. China will likely move to latter category, thus assuring world of accurate emissions reductions reporting while allaying Chinese concerns regarding state sovereignty.

So... live-blog coming up in a moment. Stay tuned to this post....

11:43am (Copenhagen time): Obama has been in meeting room with other leaders negotiating. Now, delegates in giant plenary room asked to take their seats. Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen takes seat at front.
11:48: French president Nicola Sarkozy apparently stormed out of backstage meeting room where late negotiations unfold with Obama and a dozen other leaders, Sarkozy saying that the countries were not cooperating.
11:52: Waiting on Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
11:57: Ban Ki Moon arrived. PM Rasmussen speaking right now.
11:58: Follow video feed here. If bogged down (likely), try Danish TV here.
12:01pm (Copenhagen time): Sec. General BKM gives welcoming remarks.
12:04: BKM: Decision on climate change for common good for all time.
12:05: PM Wen Jiabao of China takes podium to speak.
12:08: China PM listing all recent enviro achievements of the country.
12:09: Wen repeats carbon intensity reduction targets already agreed (I believe 42-45% decrease in intensity).
12:14: Boiler plate from Wen. Takes seat. Lula of Brazil now taking the floor.
12:15: Back-room meeting participants listed here.
12:17: Lula expresses frustration with process. Brazil has done a lot already, while science shows us worse CC problem. Brazil has had to make very difficult efforts as developing country. Spends $16 billion per year on CC efforts. Brazil has demonstrated its determination. Now discussing meeting last night with heads of state. Meeting was necessary because negotiations, preparations haven't done a lot until now.
12:21: Lula smackdown on developed countries.
12:22: Lula: we all agree on 2-degree warming limit.
12:24: Lula: for developed world three meals a day is thing of the past. For Africa, many developing countries, this would be a huge achievement.
12:27: Brazil willing to contribute to financing even as developing nations. Not acceptable, though, to have agreement document just for sake of signing a document. But if we don't have it by now, doubtful that "angel" will arrive to help. But "I believe in miracles."
12:31: Lula: can't do anything without addressing poverty, preserving the main species of this world, "its men, women, and children."
12:32: Here comes Obama.
12:33: Obama: CC not fiction. Unchecked poses risks to security, economy, and planet. Question is not nature of challenge, but capacity to meet it. "Our ability to take action is in doubt right now."
12:34: Here today "not to talk but to act."
12:36: "we are convinced that changing the way we use energy is essential to America’s national security, because it will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and help us deal with some of the dangers posed by climate change."
12:37: Obama repeating US emissions reductions targets of 17% reduction by 2020 (from 2005 baseline).
12:40: "Mitigation. Transparency. And financing. It is a clear formula – one that embraces the principle of common but differentiated responses and respective capabilities. And it adds up to a significant accord – one that takes us farther than we have ever gone before as an international community."
12:41 "We know the fault lines because we’ve been imprisoned by them for years."
12:42: Obama: can choose something now or "choose delay." No time to waste, Obama says. He's trying some cheerleading. Time is now, etc. Finishes.
12:45: Prime Minister of Lesotho expressing deep disappointment from perspective of developing nations that nothing legally binding coming out of COP15.
12:49: Thanking Pres. Obama for leading his "great country" to turn around and join the world in dealing with climate change.

No new commitments from Obama. US emissions reduction commitment is ridiculously low and one of the central points of dispute. This just isn't enough. China's not giving enough either, of course. But COP15 ends with US not budging at all on its emissions reductions targets.

This meeting was always going to be about a political agreement, not a legally binding agreement, which would come at COP16 in Mexico City right now planned for November next year. But the political agreement is apparently what we've already known since at least yesterday.

There is indeed a political agreement but it's pretty mild. Available here - leaked version, supposedly, but beware that this is not official.

I need more time to assess and will sign off for now. But first impression, despite knowing this would only be a political agreement, is that the outcome of COP15 is a huge disappointment. The culprits are clearly China and the US. Shame.

But... it's still going to be a long day of negotiations....

Update: Official transcript of Obama's remarks here.

1 comment:

troutsky said...

Real shocker. From my perspective the last minute negotiations on REDD simply promote the privitization of rainforests and conversion from bio-diversuty to mono-culture. Same Anex 1 forces at work but the logic is inescapable.