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Copenhagen Accord

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Title The Copenhagen Accord
Description

- Global temperature limits—the Accord acknowledges that "deep cuts in global emissions are required... so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius," and pledges countries endorsing the Accord to "take action to meet this objective consistent with science and the basis of equity." While disputes between industrialized and developing countries blocked agreement on a specific timeframe for peaking of global emissions or on cutting global emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050, this does establish the 2 degree C target as a clear litmus test for success of the global effort.

- Emissions limitation pledges—One of the achievements of Copenhagen was that it set a deadline that encouraged most of the major emitting countries to put forward pledges of what they were prepared to do to limit their emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. The Accord establishes appendices for countries to list these emissions reduction targets (for industrialized countries such as the U.S. and Europe) or emissions limitation actions (for developing countries such as China, India, and Brazil). Initial commitments and actions are to be submitted to the UNFCCC secretariat by January 31, 2010, for compilation in an information document. While this is no substitute for enshrining these pledges as commitments in a legally binding treaty such as the Kyoto Protocol, it will give them greater political heft and make it more difficult for countries to back away from them later.

- Developing country reporting—the Accord calls on developing countries to increase the frequency of reporting on their national emissions inventories and actions to limit emissions to every two years, "with provisions for international consultations and analysis [of these reports] under clearly defined guidelines that will ensure that national sovereignty is respected." This was the hardest-fought phrase in the whole agreement, with President Obama and others pressing for greater transparency on whether countries like China are meeting their emissions limitation goals. This language is essential to assure the U.S. Senate that the world will be able to track progress by China and other major emitting developing countries. Of course, the devil will be in the details as countries negotiate the "clearly defined guidelines" called for in the Accord.

- REDD—the Accord recognizes the critical role of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in the overall effort to address global warming, and calls for "the immediate establishment of a mechanism . . . to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries" for this purpose. Securing incentives for REDD has been a key focus of UCS in this process, and the language in the Copenhagen Accord represents real progress towards this goal. Read more about progress made on REDD on other fronts in Copenhagen.

- Climate finance—the Accord commits developed countries to provide "new and additional" financial resources of $30 billion over the next three years for developing country actions to reduce deforestation, deploy clean technologies, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Developed countries also "commit to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries." Secretary Clinton's support for such a goal in her Copenhagen press conference last Thursday helped break the negotiating deadlock and paved the way for final agreement on the Accord. However, working out the details on this pledge—how much of the $100 billion per year will be public financing as opposed to flows from the private sector and carbon markets, what the sources of this public financing will be, and the many institutional and governance issues—will not be easy.

- Technology—the Accord calls for establishment of a Technology Mechanism to accelerate technology development and transfer, to be "guided by a country-driven approach." Clean technology demonstration and deployment, for both mitigation and adaptation, would be eligible for support from both the short-term and longer-term resources pledged under the Accord. Much progress was made in the detailed negotiations on technology issues in Copenhagen, though the draft text was not formally adopted; this broad agreement should provide a good basis for near-term action on this front. Read additional details on the discussion of technology issues at Copenhagen.

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