Copenhagen Negotiators Make Up for Lost Time After Walk Out: Day 9 Roundup

by | Dec 15, 2009

UNclimateWhen talks resumed on Dec. 14 after a delegation representing developing nations walked out of a meeting over sidelined discussions on the Kyoto Protocol, negotiators worked into the night to make up for lost time, but still came up nearly empty-handed at the start of day 9 of the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15). The U.S. and other developed countries announced $350 million in funding over five years to promote clean energy technologies in developing countries.

Still, talks are focused on deeper emission cuts by developed nations and financing for poorer countries as a new draft dropped targets for carbon cuts and financing, reports the Wall Street Journal. The draft was issued after the Group of 77 and large developing countries walked out of talks, according to the article.

BBC News is reporting that one group, chaired by Germany and Indonesia, is examining further emission cuts by developed nations under the Kyoto Protocol, while another, chaired by the UK and Ghana, is looking at long-term financing to help poorer countries protect themselves against impacts of climate change.

As Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN’s climate body, said there was still a lot of work to be done before a final deal could be signed, both China and the U.S. continue to lock horns. China is rejecting U.S. demands that its emission curbs must be subject to international verification, while the U.S. said it would not deepen it greenhouse gas (GHG) emission cuts, reports BBC News.

Ministers agreed that they have to start making strides before Obama and about 120 other heads of state and government meet for a summit at the end of the week, reports

New reports are showing how important it is for delegates to make some significant progress over the final days of the conference. A report from leading scientists, presented by Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, concludes that snow and ice are melting at a faster pace than anticipated, reports The News Market. A key finding indicates that Antarctica shows signs of a net reduction of ice on a similar scale to that of inland Greenland.

Some progress is being made at the talks. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced on Dec. 14 the launch of a new Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative (Climate REDI), under the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and energy-efficiency technologies in developing countries.

Climate REDI, which includes three new clean energy technology programs, will budget $350 million over five years, with pledges from the U.S., Italy, Australia, UK, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and other partners.

The DOE said Climate REDI is a “quick-start” initiative to complement the much broader technology and finance mechanisms of an international climate agreement.

This is a good first step,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of the Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute (WRI), in a press release. “With more and more of these kinds of laudable initiatives being developed by the U.S. and other countries, global coordination between them is needed to ensure maximum effectiveness. That’s why we need a robust and effective technology mechanism under the UNFCCC.”

However, negotiations over deforestation have changed for the worse, significantly weakening the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) scheme, according to some environmental groups.

The Guardian is reporting on Dec. 15 that leaked documents show that a new proposed text has removed many of the scheme’s safeguards. The document leaked to NGOs on. Dec. 14 shows the text – meant to cut 20 percent of the global greenhouse gases from deforestation in developing countries – has removed all targets for ending deforestation along with weakening other safeguards such as protection of natural forests and forest conversion, reports the Guardian.

The IUCN issued a statement that a deal on REDD-plus could stall on a small number of unresolved issues or be sacrificed because of a lack of progress in other areas.

The IUCN released two papers on Dec. 15 that underscores the importance of REDD-plus in fighting global warming. The study, “True Cost of REDD” (PDF,) finds that typically in the Brazilian Amazon and Indonesia, the financial returns of agriculture and livestock production on recently deforested land are so low that REDD payments would be an attractive option for many landholders.

In a second report, “Legal Frameworks for REDD: Design and Implementation at the National Level” (PDF), IUCN underlines the importance of clear national legal frameworks as essential for both REDD-plus “readiness” work and longer-term national REDD strategies.

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