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COP15 report: Day 12

Date
18 December 2009

The final day of the Copenhagen Climate Conference was characterized by rumour and counter-rumour as leaders conducted closed-door, high-level discussions to seal a political agreement.  The climax of the day was agreement amongst the US and leading developing countries on a so-called 'Copenhagen Accord'.

Formal proceedings began around noon with eagerly anticipated speeches from President Obama and Premier Wen of China.  Other heavyweight speakers included Prime Minister Singh of India, and Presidents Lula of Brazil and Zuma of South Africa.

President Obama laid out the US' national and international climate policy and position.  He reiterated the US' support in mobilizing $100bn per annum of climate financing by 2020, as well as support for 'fast-start funding through to 2012.  Much of the speech focused on the importance of transparency and a review mechanism in any international agreement for countries mitigation actions.  This was clearly aimed at the major emerging economies of China, India and Brazil.

Many observers and commentators expressed disappointment at the substance of the speech.  An announcement of a more ambitious emission target had been hoped for by some. In reality this was always unlikely because of the constraint placed on the US administration by the domestic legislative process.

Premier Wen's speech also stuck to China's existing position, including the recent pledge to cut carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020, which Wen described as extremely challenging.  Crucially, the Premier stated that China was committed to these targets even in the absence of a political deal, setting a floor on Chinas level of ambition.  Similar pledges were made by India and Brazil, with the latter making the progressive announcement that it would provide climate financing to other developing countries.

Throughout the afternoon and into the evening a core group of 25 leaders worked on developing a high-level negotiating text.  Leaked copies of a 'Copenhagen Accord' indicated that leaders were attempting to create a political agreement that covered all the core elements of the Bali Action Plan (emission reductions, adaptation, technology and finance). 

With heads of state locked away in a secure location, rumours circulated like wildfire throughout the day.  Suggestions that various leaders had left for home proved to be unfounded (President Hugo Chavez excepted). One rumour that President Obama was about to give a press conference caused a panicked rush by half the 5000-strong press corp.

At 10.00pm news leaked out that a deal had been done at least between the US, China, India and South Africa - the leading developing countries. A press conference a short time later from President Obama confirmed that agreement had been reached amongst these countries. 

Initial analysis by The Climate Group indicated that the Accord did not contain emission targets for individual countries, a long-term emissions global goal or agreement on any kind of legal outcome.  It did contain figures for climate finance, a temperature goal and an agreement on the contentious issue of monitoring, reporting and verification.

As this report was posted, however, it remained unclear what the EU's position on the Accord was.  Without EU endorsement and that of the other 180 odd parties to the Convention, the deal was by no means sealed as the clock ticked into Saturday morning.

Stay tuned for further analysis on Saturday from The Climate Group's team in Copenhagen on the Copenhagen Accord and other climate conference developments.

 

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