Copenhagen Accord marks new starting point for global fight against climate change

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Following hard negotiations, the UN climate change conference adopted the Copenhagen Accord, which was hailed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as "a significant step forward" in the global fight against climate change.

The five-page document manifested the strong determination by countries, rich or poor, to save our warming planet, embodied broad consensus of the international community on further efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and marked a new starting point for negotiations on fighting global warming.


With the participation of more than 190 countries, the Copenhagen conference had been designed to hammer out a global deal on climate change after the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

From the very beginning, the negotiations were deadlocked due to sharp differences between developed and developing countries. One of the sticking points was whether to continue talks on double tracks, i.e. both under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, while developing countries may implement national mitigation actions on voluntary basis.

While developing countries insisted on the two-track approach, developed countries were trying to throw away the Kyoto Protocol and replace it with a new single deal. Their real intention was to dodge their mandatory obligations under the Kyoto Protocol and force developing countries to do more, which ran counter to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Djemouh Kamel, chairperson of the African group at the summit, warned that to kill the Kyoto Protocol was to kill Africa, noting that developed countries had agreed in Bali of Indonesia two years ago upon the two-track negotiation mechanism.

Thanks to the joint push by developing countries, the Copenhagen Accord upheld the double-track mechanism, which would serve the basis for further negotiations.

"We emphasize our strong political will to urgently combat climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities," the accord said.


Under the UN convention and its Kyoto Protocol, developed countries committed themselves to a collective greenhouse gas emission target of 5.2 percent lower from the 1990 levels by 2012, while developing countries are required to adopt national mitigation actions on voluntary basis.

In Copenhagen, developed countries tried to mix up the different requirements and press developing countries, especially emerging economies, also to accept mandatory targets.

"Developed nations cannot impose the same kind of obligations on developing nations, because it is unfair and unequal," said Roni Ajao, special technical assistant to Nigeria's environment minister, in an interview with Xinhua.

While reiterating the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, the Copenhagen Accord maintained different requirements for developed and developing countries.

As agreed in the accord, developed countries, for the first time including the U.S., should commit to achieve individually or jointly the quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020; while developing countries are also urged to implement mitigation actions.

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