Kate Mackenzie Copenhagen catch-up: Ministers arrive, business leaders talk… and a 3.9°C change is forecast

Ministers arrive

Having left the first week to their envoys, ministers from many countries arrived at Copenhagen over the weekend to begin getting down to the nitty gritty of an agreement. Reuters reports that the ministers made little progress on Sunday. Heads of state arrive later in the week, but the arrival of the ministers alone mean some of last week’s attendees will be excluded from the Bella Center this week.

How the commitments so far stack up: Not good

And just how far do commitments so far get us towards limiting climate change to 2 degrees (let alone the 1.5 degrees sought by small island nations)? Not far, according to the Climate Interactive project, which said that comments from Japan on Friday that its previously-stated emissions targets were based on ‘ambitious goals being agreed by all major emitters’ actually shifted its forecast climate change outcome higher – from 3.8 degrees to 3.9 degrees. While the meeting is far from over, The Times reports grimly that if world leaders fail to agree the 25 – 40 per cent emissions cuts (from 1990 levels) recommended by the IPCC, the commitments may not be reviewed until 2015 or 2016.

Two-track talks

The New York Times called it ‘a week of posturing‘ but the FT points out that last week saw significant progress in agreement over forestry credits, technology transfer and most importantly, the EU’s financing commitment to developing countries. An official draft agreement was also released on Friday, although much remains to be worked out. Meanwhile, divisions over whether the Kyoto Protocol should form the basis of a new agreement (developing countries support it, but the US is opposed) may lead to two separate agreements being forged at Copenhagen.

Businesses unhappy

Friday was business day at Copenhagen, with Unilever and Coke launching a plan for the consumer goods industry to reduce emissions by tackling suppliers and customers, as well as its own emissions, the FT reported. Unilever estimated that for every tonne of carbon it emits, its suppliers emit 10 tonnes and its customers emit 30 – 60 using its products.  But as European Union leaders try to reach agreement on a 20 per cent cut by 2020 versus the more ambitious 30 per cent, business leaders have warned that the higher target number is simply not achievable.

Meanwhile Duke Energy chief executive Jim Rogers, who supports a cap-and-trade system, told Reuters that the Copenhagen process was too remote from business leaders.

Wen, Schwarzenegger and Röettgen speak out

China Daily reports that Premier Wen Jiabao has been ‘on a marathon telephone diplomacy’ push with major global leaders including Jacob Zuma and Ban Ki-Moon in the days leading up to his flight to Copenhagen on Wednesday. US president Barack Obama however was not one of those Wen spoke with.

Perhaps one of them, however, was Arnold Schwarzenegger – the Californian governor told the FT that the US government should take similar tough actions on emissions as his state has done. ” We in California do not believe, and we do not behave, as if progress has to wait for Washington or Beijing or Kyoto,” he said.

And Norbert Röettgen, Germany’s environment minister,  told the FT he believed a politically-binding agreement would be the outcome of the final week of Copenhagen talks. He also said Germany’s contribution to the EU’s E2.4bn ‘quick start’ financing for developing countries would not be from its existing development commitments – which has been feared by some recipients and NGOs.

FinallyMore on the Danish draft

Remember that ‘Danish draft’ that caused a somewhat unwarranted furore last week? The LA Times says several developing countries including India, China, Bangladesh and Ethiopia helped to draft it.

Related links:

FT Energy Source Copenhagen coverage
FT daily Copenhagen podcast