The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, ended with a non-binding agreement by countries to cap the global temperature rise by committing to emissions reductions and to raise funds to kick-start action in the developing world to deal with climate change.
The Copenhagen Accord recognizes the scientific view that keeping the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees C (approximately 35 degrees F) is required to stave off the worst effects of climate change.
In order to achieve this goal, the accord specifies that industrialized countries will commit to implement, individually or jointly, quantified economy-wide emissions targets from 2020 that would be listed in the accord before Jan. 31, 2010.
A number of developing countries, including major emerging economies, agreed to communicate their efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions every two years. They will also list their voluntary pledges before Jan. 31, 2010.
‘We now have a package to work with and begin immediate action,’ says Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. ‘However, we need to be clear that it is a letter of intent and is not precise about what needs to be done in legal terms. So the challenge is now to turn what we have agreed politically in Copenhagen into something real, measurable and verifiable.’
Nationally appropriate mitigation actions would need to be recorded in a registry, along with relevant technology, finance and capacity-building support from industrialized nations.
Because the pledges listed by developed and developing countries may, according to science, be found insufficient to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees C or less, leaders called for a review of the accord to be completed by 2015. The review would include a consideration of the long-term goal to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C.
In addition, the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund will be formed to support immediate action on climate change. The collective commitment toward the fund by developed countries over the next three years will approach $30 billion.
For long-term finance, developed countries agreed to support a goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries.
In order to step up action on the development and transfer of technology, governments intend to establish a new technology mechanism to accelerate development and transfer in support of action on adaptation and mitigation.
The next annual U.N. Climate Change Conference will take place in 2010 in Mexico City, preceded by a two-week negotiating session in Bonn, Germany, scheduled from May 31 to June 11.