Copenhagen - A Glimmer of Hope

12/19/2009

Copenhagen, Denmark – The “Copenhagen Accord” has failed to create a legally binding framework for nations to address climate change, and has not properly addressed the key issues of deforestation and adaptation, but it does provide hope for the future, Conservation International said today.

It is a step forward – agreement among a majority of nations, developed and developing, to stabilizing the climate below 2 degrees Celsius, long-term finance, transparent reporting, and a prompt start for developing country action has never before been achieved. But time is running out for a global solution to climate change and we must move quickly towards a global agreement.

The Copenhagen Accord has been created as a pragmatic attempt to play a “long game” in which key players, such as the US, China, India and Brazil, are properly engaged. However, the inherent risk in taking this long-term approach to achieving a solution is that every passing day, month and year where industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and deforestation continue at their current pace exacerbates climate change and its impacts - and will make solutions to the problem more costly and painful.

In particular, Conservation International is disappointed that REDD+ – the mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation – which had broad support from most nations, was not formally codified at COP15. The recognition in Copenhagen that REDD+ is essential to effectively mitigate climate change quickly and cost-effectively, and a pledge of immediate financing to begin its implementation are both critical steps, but greater achievements on REDD+ were within reach and were not achieved – these must be secured. Deforestation and Forest degradation is responsible for almost 17 per cent of global GHG emissions, more than all the motorized vehicles in the world.

Dr Fred Boltz, head of Conservation International’s Copenhagen delegation, said: “It is, of course, critical that the US, China and all major economies are properly engaged in solving the climate crisis, and as such the Copenhagen Accord is important. But it does not create a legally binding global framework to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions, and time is running out.

“However the inability of the UNFCCC to create a legally binding framework does not mean that climate change cannot be addressed – but it means that the responsibility still rests with individual nations rather than the global community. We must all, in every developed country, push our governments to act with speed and decisiveness to reduce emissions both domestically and abroad, and to invest heavily in supporting developing nations to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The commitment to a Copenhagen Green Climate Fund creates an opportunity, which we must seize and translate to developing country action without delay.”

The creation of this $30bn Fund to tackle climate change over the next three years is an important move, but the amount is woefully inadequate to meet the needs and commitments of developing countries to tackling both emissions reductions and adaptation to climate change. The rest of the world must respond at a scale that equals the ambitions of nations like Peru which has committed to ending deforestation by 2020 and Brazil, which is demonstrating true global leadership in reducing deforestation, setting ambitious mitigation goals and even financing global efforts.

The Accord offers a means of building confidence within the US that its legislation will not be preempted or prejudiced by international agreements. It will enable the US to engage more aggressively in emissions reduction and financing commitments, based upon a sound foundation agreed and committed by the American people. We have confidence that such legislation will be achieved and will provide a platform for the US to take its place of leadership along countries from all regions to tackle the climate challenge.

Dr Boltz added: “The UN process has not delivered the goods. The Copenhagen Accord, while better than nothing, is not enough. We must take advantage of the prompt start that it offers to translate rhetoric to action in reducing deforestation and other forms of emissions, and providing for the adaptation needs of threatened communities and ecosystems.

“We face the challenge of preserving a planet suitable for humankind. We must regroup and act decisively in 2010 to forge a proper global agreement with adequate emissions cuts and financing to tackle climate change. The clock is no longer just ticking – it’s ringing an alarm, and if we don’t listen the consequences for people and biodiversity will be catastrophic.”

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Notes to editors:

 

REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation “plus” conservation, the sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon) aims at providing compensation to halt the deforestation and degradation of natural forests and increase their recovery and permanent conservation. REDD+ strategies and activities have great potential to contribute to environmental, economic and social goals beyond carbon storage. This approach is consistent with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change goal of achieving climate goals while contributing to sustainable development as well as other Millennium Development Goals that countries have adopted. 
www.conservation.org/redd

Conservation International (CI): Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature for the well-being of humanity. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information, visit www.conservation.org. Visit also our COP15 page at www.conservation.org/COP15