Recapping Accra – Another Look at the UN Climate Change Summit in Ghana

The divide between rich and poor was never as pronounced possibly as during the global climate summit which ended last month in Accra. The summit was the third major meeting in a two year negotiation session to achieve a satisfactory successor to the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012.

The meeting ended on a more upbeat note than the previous summit. These are -in brief- the main positions:

  • European Union pushed developing countries with the strongest economies to do far more to combat climate change, notably non-Kyoto countries such as Mexico and South Korea, which joined the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, grouping rich nations, and Singapore, Argentina and some OPEC states.
  • Japan´s edited version of a sector based approach got support from China, South Korea, India, the EU, Mexico (The plan is that developing countries set pollution targets for specific industries, like cement, steel or aluminum but unlike the industrial countries they likely would not be punished for missing their goals).
  • India voiced reservations, but did not reject the concept like last time.
  • China apparently likes the sectoral approach. It fits with Beijing’s intention to increase the efficiency of its key industries, responsible for the bulk of its carbon emissions.
  • The Norwegians proposed that Norway (using auction revenues from emissions trading systems), Switzerland, Mexico (creation of a Global Fund), and the group of developing countries (the “G77 and China”) on financial incentives to assist developing countries in enhanced actions
  • Brazil and Tuvalu ganged up on their Coalition for Rainforest Nations proposal. This includes the creation of incentives for reducing deforestation and forest degradation emissions.
  • Korea, not a Kyoto Protocol signatory, surprised the world saying next year it will adopt a target for reducing its carbon emissions by 2020.
  • South Africa also announced carbon reduction targets.

Environmentalists put the onus on governments to now come up with the proper financing framework;

Something quiet but quite dramatic is happening. People are now talking about the same idea in the same language,” according to David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

There is now a basis for discussion. Before, we worried there would just be more clashes,” said Katrin Gutmann, policy coordinator of the WWF Global Climate Initiative.

Some significant progress in getting clarity on key elements of the Copenhagen agreement. There is a lot more work to do before we have an effective international agreement to global warming”, says Jake Schmidt, International Climate Policy Director, Washington, DC.

Additional fact: hardly any of the 1,600 attendees offset their flight carbon footprint, according to findings by Telegraph journalists.

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