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Copenhagen: What we need and what to expect

10 December 2009

After two years of negotiating sessions, diplomatic missions, information and counter-information, the Copenhagen Climate Summit is upon us.

What we need from a global deal

As heads of government confront the challenge of deciding how to cut emissions and drive low-carbon economic transformation, it's worth reviewing the key findings of the Breaking the Climate Deadlock initiative: 

  • Any meaningful deal will have to contain agreement on:
    - who will reduce their emissions, by how much and by when in order to keep the temperature rise below 2°C
    - how to make societies more resilient to climate change - particularly the most vulnerable countries
    - how to speed up the development and deployment of low carbon technologies
    - how to prevent tropical deforestation
    - how to pay for all the above and how public policy can leverage private sector investment
    - the institutions and procedures necessary to monitor, report and verify countries' actions
  • Three quarters of what we need to do by 2020 can be done by scaling up existing, commercially competitive, policies and technologies.
  • While doing nothing about climate change will be very expensive, smart emissions reduction strategies can increase economic growth and create new jobs and business opportunities for all major economies.

What Copenhagen must deliver

To realize the huge business opportunities created by a global low carbon transformation Copenhagen needs to reduce policy uncertainty. It can do this by delivering:

  • A clear, credible mandate and a deadline for 2010
  • Ambitious, credible emissions reduction targets and actions for all major economies
  • International public financing mechanisms designed to leverage private capital flows for mitigation and adaptation
  • A reformed, international carbon market
  • Commitment by all major economies to prepare low carbon growth plans
  • A technology cooperation framework
  • A "quick-start" action plan

What we should expect from Copenhagen

A positive outcome at Copenhagen is very much in reach. All major countries have made pledges to cut or limit their emissions. Real offers of money are on the table and heads of government are determined to reach agreement. The legally binding treaty may not be concluded until next year but there are good grounds for optimism that Copenhagen will mark the start of the low carbon revolution.

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