Copenhagen Accord: Too much unfinished business | WWF-Canada

Copenhagen Accord: Too much unfinished business

Posted on 19 December 2009
"Well meant but half-hearted pledges to protect our planet from dangerous climate change are simply not sufficient to address a crisis that calls for completely new ways of collaboration across rich and poor countries," said Kim Carstensen, Leader of WWF's Global Climate Initiative. "Millions of lives, hundreds of billions of dollars and a wealth of lost opportunities lie in the difference between rhetoric and reality on climate change action."

Politicians around the world seem to be in agreement that we must stay below the 2 degree C threshold of unacceptable risks of climate change - in theory. However, practically what leaders have put on the table adds up to 3 degrees C of warming or more, according to WWF estimates.

The Canadian government has said that it is following the US lead on climate. Yet while President Obama is saying there is much more to be done, Prime Minister Harper has stated he is "very comfortable" with the limited outcome from Copenhagen.

"As President of the G8 and co-host of the G20 meetings next year, Canadians expect our government to help broker a deal that will keep global warming well below the 2 degree limit identified by scientists as the danger zone," said Gerald Butts, President and CEO of WWF-Canada. "Canada's international credibility on climate rests in putting forward a credible plan to significantly reduce emissions here at home."

Attention will now shift to follow up negotiations which need to fill out many details in the often vague accord - and, on a more positive note, to a host of initiatives by countries, cities, companies and communities that are starting to build low carbon economies from the base up.

WWF analysed the conference outcome against a 10 element scorecard, finding that none of the objectives needed to fulfil the political aim of keeping average global warming below the widely agreed 2 degree C high risk level had been met, although some had been partly fulfilled.

The draft Copenhagen Accord is a long way from developing into a legally binding framework for decisive action on climate change. "We needed a treaty now and at best, we will be working on one in half a year's time," said Carstensen.

The lack of clarity is illustrated by a call for a global peak in emissions "as soon as possible", in contrast to the 2007 call of the IPCC for emissions to peak in 2017.

Emissions reductions pledges remain far lower than what is required, with a leaked analysis by the UNFCCC secretariat showing a shortfall that would lead to 3 degrees C of warming even without considering extensive loopholes.

"We are disappointed but the story continues," said Carstensen. "Civil society was excluded from these final negotiations to an extraordinary degree, and that was felt during the concluding days in Copenhagen. We can assure the world, however, that WWF and other elements of civil society will continue engaging in every step of further negotiations."

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For more information:
Keith Stewart, Director, Climate Change Program, 647-328-5518, kstewart@wwfcanada.org

Tara Wood, Head of Press, WWF-Canada, 647-400-9579, twood@wwfcanada.org