Copenhagen report: Day 5

11 December 2009

Negotiations took an important step forward today with the release of draft 'Chairs' texts under both the convention and protocol negotiating tracks.  These documents have been compiled to facilitate discussions amongst ministers who have now begun arriving in Copenhagen.  

The convention text is based around the five key elements of the Bali Action Plan namely a 'shared vision' on long-term cooperative action, emission reductions, adaptation to climate change, technology transfer, and climate finance. 

For each issue, a limited number of options have been provided for ministers to consider.  At just seven pages the document is a welcomed change from the dense and lengthy texts negotiators have been grappling with since August.    Officials are also continuing to work on additional draft decisions which would support and provide further detail to this 'core decision' text.

The protocol text is a longer document made up of decisions on the core Kyoto negotiating issues, namely: emission cuts for developed countries; new rules on land-use and forestry; emissions trading and other market mechanisms; and methodological issues.  Again, a limited number of options for each issue have been provided for ministers to consider.

Parties have had the day to digest both drafts and will meet behind closed doors tomorrow to agree whether or not they are suitable for passing to ministers for negotiation.  

There is no certainty of consensus.  Indeed some negotiators appear to be deliberately ratcheting up the stakes.  One leading developing country negotiator, in a public briefing to observer organizations, stated that emission cuts for developed countries should be 52% by 2017 and 65% by 2020 relative to 1990 levels.  The scientific consensus is for cuts of 25-40% by 2020, with current developed country offers amounting to between 13-19%.   An expectation gap clearly remains.

Getting beyond this will depend on what ministers can achieve in the coming 3-4 days of talks.  Outcomes from the informal mini-ministerial planned for Sunday will provide an indication of where the second week is likely to be heading.  The EUs announcement today of 2.4 billion of climate finance will hopefully kick start productive discussions on finance.  However, without comparable offers from other countries, it is unclear whether such progressive unilateral action will ultimately bear fruit. 

Copenhagen remains a moving feast.


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