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Leaked Climate Draft Disturbs Copenhagen Deliberations
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, December 8, 2009 (ENS) - An informal Danish draft proposal for a "political" Copenhagen Agreement raised concerns among developing countries and nongovernmental organizations today at the United Nations climate conference at the Bella Center in the Danish capital.

Entitled 'Adoption of The Copenhagen Agreement Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,' the text was leaked by the UK’s "Guardian" newspaper and the full text was posted online here.

While some developing country delegates were upset by what they characterized as a secret move on the part of developed countries to bypass the United Nations process, the document in fact contains no numerical targets but only "xx" where numbers would be, leaving them to be filled in when 110 world leaders come to Copenhagen for the high-level segment of the meeting at end of next week.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer and Danish Minister of Energy and Environment and COP15 President Connie Hedegaard (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer commented in a statement, "This was an informal paper ahead of the conference given to a number of people for the purposes of consultations. The only formal texts in the UN process are the ones tabled by the Chairs of this Copenhagen conference at the behest of the Parties."

The leaked draft does contain terms that have been already widely agreed in earlier negotiations this year among developed countries and major economies.

For instance, it states that "climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time" and that the aim of the agreement is to "limit global average temperature rise to a maximum of 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels."

The draft acknowledges that "social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities in developing countries" and that "the largest share of historical global emissions of greenhouse gases originates in developed countries, and that per capita emissions in many developing countries are still relatively low."

The draft recognizes that "moving to a low-emission economy is an opportunity to promote continued economic growth and sustainable development in all countries" and also that "gender equality is essential in achieving sustainable development."

The draft supports "the goal of a peak of global emissions as soon as possible, but no later than [2020], acknowledging that developed countries collectively have peaked and that the timeframe for peaking will be longer in developing countries..." Text in brackets is considered provisional.

The draft document supports "the goal of a reduction of global annual emissions in 2050 by at least 50 percent versus 1990 annual emissions, equivalent to at least 58 percent versus 2005 annual emissions."

U.S. chief negotiator Jonathan Pershing, right, confers with two delegates from the African country of Lesotho. (Photo courtesy ENB)

It provides for a the REDD program of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and also provides for fast start financing for developing countries, although a firm figure is not stated.

All these measures have been agreed to over the past several months of negotiations.

Still, there was plenty of outrage from those who believe that a much stronger document is needed to tackle the climate crisis.

Friends of the Earth International Program Director Elizabeth Bast blasted out an email saying, "The U.S., Denmark, and a cabal of other wealthy nations that are among the world's biggest polluters have, in secret back-room dealings, produced an alternative draft text to the one that's officially under negotiation."

"This secret alternative - known as the 'Danish text' - would let rich countries shirk their responsibilities to lead the way in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and force poor countries to bear an unfair burden of the costs of keeping the climate stable," wrote Bast. "The United States must reject this secret text and renounce the type of underhand wheelings and dealings that have produced it."

Meena Raman, honorary secretary of Friends of the Earth Malaysia, said, "The leaked draft Copenhagen Agreement violates the democratic principles of the UN and threatens the Copenhagen negotiations. By discussing their text in secret back-room meetings with a few select countries the Danes are doing the opposite of what the world expects the host country to do."

Friends of the Earth International believes that, "Rich, developed countries should cut their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% in comparison with 1990 levels by 2020. These cuts should be made at home - with no offsetting. Offsetting, including through the Clean Development Mechanism, is a false solution and should be rejected," Raman said.

The Kyoto Protocol provides for offsetting so that developed countries with legally binding greenhouse gas emissions targets to meet can offset some of their emissions at home by funding renewable energy or afforestation projects in developing countries.

Kim Carstensen, leader of WWF's Global Climate Initiative, said, "The behind the scenes negotiations tactics under the Danish Presidency have been focusing on pleasing the rich and powerful countries rather than serving the majority of states who are demanding a fair and ambitious solution."

"The Danish Prime Minister's proposed text is weak and reflects a too elitist, selective and non-transparent approach by the Danish presidency," Carstensen said.

"We understand and share the frustration of the poor and vulnerable countries," Carstensen said. "We urge the Danish presidency to change its style and move to a cooperative and listening mode.
Wangari Maathai and Kumi Naidoo, center, pose for media after presenting a petition signed by 10 million people urging climate action. (Photo courtesy Greenpeace)

"Focus on the Danish text right now is a distraction from the negotiations that have just resumed for their final phase in Copenhagen," he said. "Talks must focus on the text that has so far been negotiated and not on new texts that are being negotiated in small groups."

Meanwhile, on Monday, a petition signed by 10 million people calling for an ambitious climate treaty was handed to Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and other Danish and UN officials by Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International executive director and head of the Global Campaign for Climate Action, of which the Tck,Tck, Tck campaign is the public face. He was joined by Kenyan politician and Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai, renowned for her tree-planting organization, the Greenbelt Movement.

Naidoo said the size of the petition shows a huge groundswell of support for world leaders to deal with climate change.

"The world has spoken," Naidoo said. "Leaders must and can deliver a deal that will save the climate. One that is fair to the poorest people and countries that did not cause this problem but that will suffer the most from it, ambitious enough to leave a safe planet for us all and one that is legally binding, that can be monitored and real targets that can be enforced."

At the handover event, 15 young people from around the world held up large scale building blocks spelling out the words, "10 million people expect a fair, ambitious and binding deal" to demonstrate that all the elements required for an effective climate treaty are present.

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon briefs media at UN headquarters. (Photo courtesy UN)

Leah Wickham, 24, from Fiji, said at the event that this is the summit where world leaders will decide what kind of future young people and the coming generations would have.

"I am relying on the decision makers to sign a deal that will mean that my children inherit a safe world," Wickham said. "All the hopes and dreams of my generation rest on Copenhagen."
Street sign advertising Hopenhagen LIVE.

At UN headquarters in New York today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed optimism that a robust agreement to combat climate change, including specific recommendations on mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology, would be reached in Copenhagen.

"Copenhagen can and must be a turning point in the world’s efforts to prevent runaway climate change," he said. "Never have so many different nations of all size and economic status made so many pledges together."

The secretary-general will travel to Copenhagen next week to open the high-level segment of the gathering, which concludes on December 18, when the outcome document will emerge.

Outside of the Bella Center, in cracking cold temperatures, Copenhagen City Hall Square is transformed into a city of the future called "Hopenhagen LIVE," which is hosting concerts, poetry readings, science workshops for kids, and climate-friendly takeout food.

Specially-designed Hopenhagen LIVE houses shelter exhibitions full of green inventions and climate-friendly designs. There are movies from the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, 50 climate-friendly cars in a motor parade and speeches by politicians from across the world who want to publicize their commitments to a cooler planet.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.

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