FT Energy Source is posting a daily question for our panel of expert commentators. Mindy Lubber of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, Jeremy Leggett of Solarcentury, Julian Morris of the International Policy Network, Kyoto protocol carbon market architect Graciela Chichilnisky, and Climate Change Capital chairman Vivienne Cox.
The UN conference in Copenhagen finally ended on Saturday morning with a global deal on climate change, although it was a non-binding agreement and far from unanimous. Is the agreement a disappointment or a relief?
Mindy Lubber: The climate treaty announcement is legitimately catching some heat for being too little, too late. The enormity of the crisis cries out for strong binding pollution reduction targets by all countries and massive infusions of public and private capital to catalyse a fast-track transition to a low-carbon economy.
But expecting we’d get all this at COP15 was never realistic. That’s why leading US businesses such as Nike, PG&E and North Face are encouraged by these first positive steps from Copenhagen.
An agreement reached by US President Barack Obama with leaders from India, South Africa, China and Brazil has formed the basis of a text adopted by the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen.
At a glance here are the main points from the “Copenhagen Accord”:
* Long-term goals:
“Deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science … with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.”
Perhaps the most positive thing that can be confidently said about the Copenhagen meeting at this stage is that everyone agrees there is more to be done. A non-binding agreement between the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, negotiated in a four-hour meeting between the countries’ leaders, has caused confusion and provoked a mixed response from other countries.
Certainly, no-one is saying that the agreement goes far enough. Although there was progress on monitoring of emissions reductions and financing, the actual emissions commitments so far are not sufficient to reach the agreed target of limiting warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, which scientists suggest is probably the limit of safety.
[A word on the agreement itself: while the gist can be gleaned from officials' comments, several texts purporting to the be real thing have been circulating in Copenhagen. We will publish the correct text when confirmed.]
At 2am, about four hours after the US first called the Copenhagen climate deal done, the European Union has finally fallen into line, albeit with visible reluctance. The EU has signed up to the ‘Copenhagen Accord’, while complaining about most of its details.
Gordon Brown has been taking a similar tack, describing the accord as a “first step”, pleading understanding of the difficulties inherent in reaching agreement among 192 countries, and raising the prospect of strengthening the agreement next year.
As weary observers dozed in the front row of the press centre, Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister of Sweden which holds the rotating EU presidency, and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission complained about the weakness of the deal.
Reinfeldt could also not resist a dig at US president Barack Obama.