Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson is reporting on the scene from Copenhagen during the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
The Tuvalu Protocol
At this morning’s plenary session of the Copenhagen climate negotiations, the tiny island nation of Tuvalu called for strengthening the Kyoto Protocol to limit warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, rather than the current standard of 2 ° C. Their proposal to amend the Kyoto Protocol with a new, legally binding agreement to set a target of 350 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere fractured the session, as Tuvalu was supported by other small island states and poor nations in Africa, but was opposed by fifteen richer developing nations, including Saudi Arabia, China, and India. Stabilizing carbon dioxide concentrations at 350 ppm would be 25 percent above pre-industrial levels, but is 10 percent below the present concentration of 390 ppm, so the targets would require significant and immediate reductions in emissions from both developed and developing nations. Tuvalu negotiator Ian Fry told the conference that “our future rests on the outcome of this meeting.”
The chair of the session, Danish conference president Connie Hedegaard suspended the negotiations because an agreement on whether to establish a “contact group” “” a new formal negotiating session “” could not be reached. Outside the plenary hall, activists rallied around the Tuvalu plan.
The negotiators then turned to the challenge of financing and governance of clean-energy investment for developing countries, including the state of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism CDM). Much time was spent on whether the oil and coal industry’s development of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies should be funded through the Clean Development Mechanism. Saudi Arabia, which earlier endorsed Climategate to deny global warming, called CCS a “win-win” technology.
Meanwhile, forward progress came as the United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, and Norway released a co-written climate financing governance paper, the first step in unlocking the post-Kyoto global investment needed to prepare nations from the damages of global warming while reducing the pollution that causes it.
At a press conference, chief US negotiator Todd Stern said, “I completely reject the notion of a debt or reparations” in terms of moral responsibility on the part of the United States for its historical emissions, though he recognized the “historical role in putting emissions into the atmosphere.” Stern reminded the press that the United States would never join the Kyoto Protocol structure, instead working towards a parallel international structure that requires both developed and developing countries to make commitments to emissions reductions. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that the greenhouse gas endangerment finding made yesterday was intended to “make up for lost time,” and would be complementary to whatever legislation Congress enacts.
The Washington Post further damaged its credibility as a paper of record by publishing a Climategate-vs-Copenhagen screed by Sarah Palin, as a climate-denial caucus of Republican House members announced their intentions to head to Copenhagen to tell the world they will work against their president on the international stage. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) stood on the House floor pledging to “fight the globalist clque.”
Pushing Around Targets
Yesterday, South Africa announced it would commit to significantly slowing the growth of their global warming pollution by 2020.
Canada and Croatia took the top “Fossil of the Day” award today for trying to change the 1990 benchmark baseline in the Kyoto Protocol, and Russia took second place because its negotiators announced that President Medvedev’s recently announced reduction targets were merely “political,” rather than a real commitment.