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Background to Copenhagen Summit: An Analysis

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The United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change organized the Montreal Climate Change Conference, which was held between November 28 and December 9, 2005. The event is being held in conjunction with the eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Montreal Meeting was the first convention since the Kyoto Protocol, signed by 156 countries that took effect in February 2005. The pact commits industrialised nations to making specific cuts in carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases that trap solar heat. The Kyoto Protocol legally bound participating developed countries to cut their combined greenhouse gas emissions to five per cent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. The ozone layer filters out harmful ultra-violet radiation (less than 290 nanometres) from the sun. A broad scientific consensus agrees that these gases accumulating in the atmosphere,byproducts of automobile engines, power plants and other fossil fuelburning industries, contributed significantly to the past century’s global temperature rise of 1 degree Fahrenheit. This gradual warming of Earth’s atmosphere is not a good thing. It translates into the melting of glaciers, droughts becoming more common, and new hurricane patterns being formed.

Challenges:
(1) The approach of United States of America and its small band of oil-rich supporters, the planet’s worst polluter, is still not clear. It alone accounted for 36 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions in 1990. USA had rejected the emissions cutbacks of the current Kyoto Protocol, accepted only a watered-down proposal to enter an exploratory global “dialogue” on future steps to combat climate change. USA believes that the mandatory energy cuts would harm the U.S. economy. USA is in favour of a ‘technology led’ solution

(2) The effort of fast-growing developing countries like India and China is still far from satisfactory.

(3) Australia remained defiant over the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, despite Russia’s decision to approve the deal. Australia believes that only a comprehensive agreement over this issue can yield results and these half-hearted attempts will only add to the confusion.

(4) The provisions of Kyoto themselves. The Kyoto pact will apply only to nations that ratify it. There are no compulsory provisions.
(5) There is no specific basis for punishment and there is no idea of a financial penalty.
(6) Most countries are lagging targets under Kyoto. The UNFCCC Secretariat says emissions by Spain and Portugal were worst; at 40.5 per cent above 1990 levels in 2002 while U.S. emissions, for instance were up 13.1 percent.

Concerns:
(1) Atmospheric CO2 level are now at the highest in 650,000 years.
(2) The year 2005 is likely to go into history books as the warmest year on record.
(3) The latest US and Canadian research have indicated that the protective gas layer found in the stratosphere will not now recover its health until about the year 2065.
(4) CFCs have extremely long lifetimes in the atmosphere. CFC-11 (a foam-blowing agent) has a lifetime of 11 years and CFC-12 (a refrigerant) has a lifetime of 100 years, so they are in the atmosphere for a very long time.
(5) This year’s Antarctic ozone hole was among the biggest ever recorded, extending over an area of about 26 million square km.
(6) The thinning that occurs over the Arctic has never matched that in the southern polar region and it is expected to recover sooner, sometime between 2030 and 2040.
(7) Two of Greenland’s largest glaciers are retreating at an alarming pace. One of the glaciers, Kangerdlugssuaq, is currently moving about 9 miles a year compared to 3 miles a year in 2001. The other glacier, Helheim, is retreating at about 7 miles a year — up from 4 miles a year during the same period.
(8) Lake Superior is the largest lake. The Great Lakes provide the largest supply of fresh water on the Earth. A series of dams, lakes and rivers connect the five lakes. Stresses from polluted rivers to invasive species threaten to trigger an ecological breakdown in the Great Lakes. Controversy over role of Aerosols: Aerosols-particles smaller than one hundredth of a millimetre- are churned out from factory chimneys, from burning fossil fuels and forest fires. Because the particles are so light, they remain aloft for long periods, where they cool the earth by reflecting radiation from the sun back out to space. This reduces the global temperature.

Relevance of Kyoto

The Kyoto Protocol constitutes a first step under the UNFCCC to set legally binding and time bound greenhouse gas emission reductions. This is the first COP since the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC entered into force in 16 February 2005. The Protocol commits its signatories to reduce levels of greenhouse gases – chief among them carbon dioxide – believed to be increasing global warming. Around 25 billion tonnes of extra carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere annually by human activities, mainly through wildfires, land clearance and the burning of forest fuels. The total amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by a quarter since the start of the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago. Developed countries in general are required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent compared to reference year 1990 between 2008 and 2012, with the European Union committed to a reduction of 8 per cent. One of the main goals of this summit is to agree methods and targets for emissions reductions beyond 2012, when the first phase of the Protocol runs out.

SIX GASES
• Carbon dioxide (CO2);
• Methane (CH4);
• Nitrous oxide (N2O);
• Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs);
• Perfluorocarbons (PFCs);
• Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

Now more than 30 industrialised countries are bound by concrete and legally binding emission reduction targets for the period 2008-12. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is the key element of the Kyoto Protocol. Under CDM, developed countries can invest in sustainable development projects. These projects reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. It promotes sustainable development whilst spreading climate-friendly technology. It provides market-based incentives to finance sustainable development in developing countries.It helps developing countries leapfrog the polluting technologies the developed world has been using for so many years.

Proposal before Kyoto:

Three substantially different proposals on ‘quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives’ have been forwarded to Kyoto:
(1) the EU proposes a 15 per cent reduction from 1990 levels of a ‘basket’ of three gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) by 2010;
(2) Japan calls for a ‘base reduction’ of the same gases by 2008-2012, calculated for each country on the basis of its GDP/emissions ratio, emissions per capita and population growth; (3) the US advocates a stabilization of all greenhouse gases including hydrofluoro-carbons (HFCs), perfluoro-carbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) at 1990 levels by 2008-2012, with unspecified reductions in the fiveyear period thereafter. Another round of meeting is over. Another opportunity is lost. Once again present dominated the future. The myopic perception outplayed the clairvoyance. The might dominated; request obliterated; issue of sustainability annihilated; politics
and diplomacy reigned, economic exigencies highlighted but America must know that luck and opportunity is never given but it is only lent.

Outcome of the Montreal Summit

(1) The agreement set no deadline for completing that work, except to say it should be done early enough to ensure that no gap develops after 2012. Nevertheless, the summit further cemented the commitments on targeted emission reductions beyond 2012 by those developed countries.

(2) The European Union will meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, two years before the global environment treaty’s final deadline.

(3) US favoured and called for voluntary efforts and bilateral and regional arrangements to tackle climate change. A better scientific and research oriented approach is needed to tackle this problem. China, one of the world’s worst polluters, urged
the United States to join the Kyoto treaty.

(4) The Montreal conference brought US and other dissent members of the UNFCC into the international climate change agenda by initiating what is called a “dialogue process”. USA seems to agree to pursue the non-binding dialogue process. At the same time, USA has realised that further pursuance of anti-Kyoto policy may isolate them.

(5) Businesses and poorer nations will gain more than 10 billion euro by 2012 from the international effort to combat climate change under a significant reform agreed to the Kyoto protocol.

Annex I Parties

The industrialized countries listed in this annex to the Convention sought to return their greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000 as per Article 4.2 (a) and (b). They have also accepted emissions targets for the period 2008-12 as per Article 3 and Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol. Annex I countries (industrialized countries): Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Annex II Parties

The wealthy countries listed in this annex to the Convention have a special obligation to help developing countries with financial and technological resources. They include (developed countries which pay for costs of developing countries) Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America. (23 countries and separately the European Union; Turkey was removed from the annex II list in 2001 at its request to recognize its economy as a transition economy.)

Bonn Agreements

Political deal reached at COP-6 in Bonn, Germany, in 2001, by which governments signed off on the most politically controversial issues under the Buenos Aires Plan of Action. The multi-billion-dollar GEF was established in 1991 by the World Bank, the UN Development Programme, and the UN Environment Programme to support projects in developing countries that have widespread environmental benefits. It was selected to operate the Convention’s “financial mechanism” on an interim basis. In that role it funds developing-country projects that have positive global effects on climate change. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 179 member governments — in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector — to address global environmental issues. The United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Program, and the World Bank were the three initial partners implementing GEF projects.In 1994, at the Rio Earth Summit, the GEF was restructured and moved out of the World Bank system to become a permanent, separate institution. The decision to make the GEF an independent organization enhanced the involvement of developing countries in the decision-making
process and in implementation of the projects. Since 1994, however, the World Bank has served as the Trustee of the GEF Trust Fund and provided administrative services. Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) The atmospheric gases responsible for causing global warming and climate change. The major GHGs are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Less
prevalent –but very powerful – greenhouse gases are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

Entry into Force
The point at which an intergovernmental agreement becomes legally binding-occurring at a prestated interval after a re-stated and required number of ratifications by countries has been achieved. The Climate Change Convention required 50 ratifications to enter into force. It now enters into force for each new Party 90 days after that Party ratifies the Convention. Carbon Market A popular but misleading term for a trading system through which countries may buy or sell units of greenhouse-gas emissions in an effort to meet their national limits on emissions, either under the Kyoto Protocol or under other agreements, such as that among member states of the European Union. The term comes from the fact that carbon dioxide is the predominant greenhouse gas and other gases are measured in units called “carbon-dioxide equivalents.”

Quantified Emissions Limitation and Reduction Commitments (QELROs) Legally binding targets and timetables under the Kyoto Protocol for the limitation or reduction of greenhousegas emissions by developed countries.

UNEP
On the recommendations of the above mentioned Conference the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was launched with its headquarters at Nairobi. Purpose: The programme was expected to provide leadership and encourage partnerships in caring for the environment without compromising for future generations.

Activities: The UNEP has set up Global Environment Monitoring S y s t e m (GEMS) and G l o b a l R e s o u r c e Information D a t a b a s e (GRID), which focus on vital areas of environmental concerns such as climate and atmosphere, oceans, renewable resources, trans-boundary and health consequence of pollution.

IPCC
The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading body for the assessment of climate change, established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences. The IPCC is a scientific body. It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. There are at present 194 countries.

The scientific evidence brought up by the first IPCC Assessment Report of 1990 unveiled the importance of climate change as a topic deserving a political platform among countries to tackle its consequences. It therefore played a decisive role in leading to the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the key international treaty to reduce global warming and cope with the consequences of climate change. Since then the IPCC has delivered on a regular basis the most comprehensive scientific reports about climate change produced worldwide, the Assessment Reports. It also continued to respond to the need of the UNFCCC for information on scientific technical matters.

FIRST REPORT: 1990: The first assessment report was released which noted that the earth is warming.
SECOND REPORT: 1995: In its second assessment report, the IPCC said that the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.
THIRD REPORT: 2001: The third assessment report emphasised that “new and stronger evidence” that mankind is altering climate.
FOURTH REPORT: 2007: In its fourth assessment report, IPCC said that most warming is very likely due to manmade emission.

One widely-accepted definition of "dangerous climate change" is that it begins at a global temperature rise of 2C. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends that to have a good chance of avoiding this definition of "dangerous climate change", developed countries cut emissions by at least 25 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, and that global emissions must peak and begin to decline by 2020 at the latest.


BALI ROADMAP
(1) A preamble notes the "urgency" of scientific evidence that warming of the climate system is unequivocal and that delay in reducing emissions increases the risk that the impacts of climate change will worsen.

(2) The Roadmap sets the framework for negotiations for a long-term agreement on emissions cuts, including the United States, the only industrial power to remain outside the UN's Kyoto Protocol.

(3) The negotiations are to wrap up in Copenhagen at the end of 2009, to give parties time to ratify the treaty so that it takes effect at the end of 2012, following on from current commitments under Kyoto. Four meetings are scheduled in 2008: in March/April, June, August/September and finally in December, in Poznan, Poland.

(4) The Roadmap does not specify any clear emissions goal, nor does it suggest which countries should make emissions cuts or how deep these cuts should be. But in a footnote in the preamble, it refers to scenarios by the UN's Nobel-winning cientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which include a goal of halving global emissions by 2050, compared with the level for 2000.

(5) Developing countries will be urged to meet "measurable, reportable and verifiable" actions for tackling their emissions, supported by cleaner technology, financing and skills-building.

(6) The Roadmap includes possible financial support to halt deforestation and forest degradation, which account for roughly a fifth of global greenhouse- gas emissions today.


Umbrella Group
The ten-nation Umbrella Group countries pledged to act on climate change. The Umbrella Group, which consists of Canada, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Ukraine, the United States and Australia. Umbrella Group believed that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrialized levels ought not exceed two degrees Celsius and the group sought a global outcome that put the world on a path to a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. But the Umbrella Group did not give the details of the reduction targets. One can recall that the Umbrella Group has long been criticized for its reluctance to reduce carbon emissions, though they have much higher capabilities compared with many
other countries.