UN fudges Copenhagen Accord deadline
21.01.10 @ 10:23
BRUSSELS - As the European Union tussles over which carbon reduction figures to inscribe in the annexes of the controversial Copenhagen Accord produced in the dying hours of December's climate summit, the UN's climate change chief has warned that few countries, including the major emitters, have so far signed up with their own emission reduction plans.
Whether the European bloc signs up with a commitment of 20 percent, 25 percent or 30 percent CO2 cut, it is likely become one of the few powers that respond to the accord in time.
Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters in Bonn on Wednesday (20 January) that just days away from a 31 January deadline, fewer than 20 countries out of 192 have submitted their targets for emissions reductions or, in the case of developing countries, the mitigation actions they intend to take.
As a result, Mr de Boer announced that the deadline has been lifted, saying that the date is "flexible."
"I see the accord as a living document that tracks actions that countries want to take," he said. "It's a soft deadline. Countries are not being asked to sign the accord to take on legally binding targets, only to indicate their intention."
In their attempts to sell the skeletal document, its authors had previously touted the end-of-January deadline as delivering the substantive element of the accord.
Rich countries were originally supposed to have inscribed their CO2 reduction targets in an annex to the accord by the end of this month, while developing countries were not strictly bound by this date.
But all talk of deadlines has now been abandoned.
The Copenhagen Accord, drafted by Brazil, China, India, South Africa and the United States, is not legally binding, and does not commit countries to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. It contains very little in the way of detail, although it does contain a goal of limiting average global temperature increase to no more than two degrees Celsius and proposes a $100 billion a year mix of private and public monies to be delivered to developing countries to pay for adaptation to climate change and to cover the costs of moving toward a low-carbon growth path.
The UN process only "took note" of the document, with even South Africa, one of the negotiators of the text, at the time describing it as being "not acceptable."
The EU for its part remains divided over whether to inscribe in the annex its existing commitment to a 20 percent cut in CO2 on 1990 levels by 2020 or move up unilaterally to a 30 percent cut. The EU has so far said it will move to a 30 percent cut if other powers make comparable offers. As it stands, the US is currently on track to offer a cut of 17 percent on 2005 levels, equivalent to a three to four percent cut on 1990 levels.
The UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Spain, currently holding the EU's six-month rotating presidency, all back a jump to 30 percent, while Italy and Poland remain dead set against such a move.
Italy and Poland fear the costs for domestic industry and households will be raised sharply without similar commitments by other powers.
As a compromise position, Belgium has suggested a move to a reduction pledge of 25 percent.