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Copenhagen Climate Summit

Copenhagen Climate Summit

snehanathwani ,  11-Dec-09
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The United Nations Climate Change Conference is taking place at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 7 December and 18 December 2009. The conference includes the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 5th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. According to the Bali Road Map, a framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012 is to be agreed there.

The conference was preceded by the Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions scientific conference, which took place in March 2009 and was also held at the Bella Center.

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THIS decade has been the warmest since records began, the Copenhagen climate summit heard prior to its commencement.

"We are in a warming trend - no doubt about it," said Michael Jarraud of the World Meteorological Organisation, which released the figures.

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Breakdown of proposed actions (by country)


To cut CO2 emissions per unit of GDP (emissions intensity) by 40–45% below 2005 levels by 2020.

European Union

To cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 if an international agreement is reached committing other developed countries and the more advanced developing nations to comparable emission reductions.

To cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 unconditionally.


To cut emissions intensity by 20–25% below 2005 levels by 2020.

Prior to the conference

Copenhagen conference: India, China plan joint exit

 In an unprecedented move, India on Saturday joined China and two other developing countries to prepare for a major offensive on rich nations at the Copenhagen conference on climate change next month.

 The four countries, which include Brazil and South Africa, agreed to a strategy that involves jointly walking out of the conference if the developed nations try to force their own terms on the developing world, Jairam Ramesh, the Indian minister for environment and forests (independent charge), said.

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India's Copenhagen Conundrum

After months of vacillation, and relentless pressure from Western nations, India finally announced a unilateral climate mitigation measure to reduce its carbon intensity levels by 20 percent to 25 percent on its 2005 levels over the next 11 years. The decision comes against the looming backdrop of the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, which opened on Dec. 7.

The new goals mark an unambiguous departure from New Delhi's traditional position that rich nations are historically responsible for global warming and should therefore take up the bulk of the responsibility for all reduction efforts. India has in the past enthusiastically endorsed the Kyoto Protocol, which requires 37 wealthy nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2012, but asked for no commitments from developing countries.

New Delhi's surprise announcement was spurred by Beijing's declaration to whittle down the carbon intensity of its own economy by 40 percent to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. This development was in turn triggered by the United States' decision to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 17 percent by 2020, as compared to 2005 levels.

As India's Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh put it, "China has given us a wake-up call." New Delhi feared that it might find itself isolated at Copenhagen as a result of the Sino-American maneuver, thereby weakening its bargaining power.

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The other side of the story

 As 192 nations convene in Copenhagen, a number of companies and organizations are making it very clear what they want accomplished at the climate conference.

As an example, global companies — including Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Lafarge, Tetra Pak, Nokia and HP — have partnered with global environment organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to urge global leaders to agree on a climate deal and set ambitious emissions reductions.

As part of the campaign dubbed, “Let The Clean Economy Begin” (video), many of the big brand companies have launched their own campaign slogans.

As an example, Nokia Siemens Networks says: “Climate responsibility is simple — it’s just good business sense.” The company is committed to reduce its CO2 footprint by 2 million tons by improving the energy efficiency of its base stations by up to 40 percent, reducing energy consumption in buildings by 6 percent by 2012, and increasing the use of renewable energy in company operations to 50 percent by 2010.

Companies involved in the WWF’s Climate Savers program are expected to reduce emissions by 50 million tons from 1999 to 2010.

Accountancy bodies are also partnering to call for one set of standards for climate change reporting. The ICAEW, the Climate Disclosure Standards Board and The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project, together with 12 accountancy institutes, have sent an open letter to leaders attending the Copenhagen Convention urging them for a standard for climate change-related disclosures.


Road ahead from Copenhagen

As Copenhagen has got going amidst more hope than was there initially, attention must shift to the massive task that lies beyond. After the politicians have just managed not to sink the world, the doers -- scientists, engineers, business people and you and me -- have to get down to taking it forward.

A good guide to what is possible lies in what has been the recent record. The latest International Energy Agency data (for 2007) paints a fascinating picture of how the world fared in the two years to it (2005-07). It gives us a clue to not just who are the leaders and laggards but also to who moved in which direction.

From this emerges a clear indication of who has to do what. Additionally, the division between the rich and the poor on cutting emission looks phony. The goal ahead for all is to become more energy efficient and cut emission rates in whatever we do.

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