Denmark should be blamed for failure of Copenhagen conference: Guardian

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It was Denmark, not China which "hijacked" the Copenhagen climate change conference last month and caused its failure, said a recent article from the Guardian website.


In an article entitled "Blame Denmark, not China, for Copenhagen failure" published on the Guardian website on Dec. 28, Martin Khor, executive director of the South Center, an inter-governmental organization of developing countries, said Britain and some other developed countries are using China as a scapegoat to cover the real reasons for the failure of the Copenhagen conference.


The article refuted UK Climate Secretary Ed Miliband's allegation that China was the villain that "hijacked" the conference. The main evidence Miliband gave was that China vetoed an "agreement" on a 50 percent reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and an 80 percent reduction by developed countries in an exclusive meeting of 26 leaders on Copenhagen's final day.


"There was indeed a 'hijack' in Copenhagen, but it was not by China," the article said: "The hijack was organized by the host government, Denmark, whose prime minister convened a meeting of 26 leaders in the last two days of the conference, in an attempt to override the painstaking negotiations taking place among 193 countries throughout the two weeks and in fact in the past two to four years."


The report pointed out that the exclusive meeting was not mandated by the U.N. climate convention, nor with the knowledge of the convention's other members.


Developing countries have warned that the so-called "Danish text" and the secret elite group would violate the multilateral treaty-based democratic process of negotiation at the conference, and replace the documents carefully negotiated by all countries for so long. Despite the warnings, the Danish government did just that, producing a non-legally binding Copenhagen accord, which was criticized by the final plenary of members and was not adopted.


"The unwise attempt by the Danish presidency to impose a non-legitimate meeting to override the legitimate multilateral process was the reason why Copenhagen will be considered a disaster," the article said.


Instead, the Copenhagen conference should have been designed as a "stepping stone" to a future successful outcome accepted by all, the report suggested.


In fact, thousands of delegates had been working for two weeks on producing two reports representing the latest state of play, showing areas of agreement and the parts needed to be further discussed and compromised. These reports were finally adopted by the conference, they should have been announced as the real outcome of Copenhagen, together with a decision to resume and complete work next year, the article suggested.


"It would not have been a resounding success, but it would have been an honest ending that would not have been termed a failure," said the article.


Besides, the accord itself is weak because it does not contain any med-term emission cut commitments by the developed countries, probably because they only pledge to cut 11-19 percent of greenhouse gases by the year 2020 on the basis of 1990 levels, far less than the 40 percent cut demanded by developing nations, the article said.


"To deflect from this great failure on their part, the developed countries tried to inject long-term emission-reduction goals of 50 percent for the world and 80 percent for themselves, by 2050 compared to 1990," it said:" When this failed to get through the 26-country meeting, some countries, especially the UK, began to blame China for the failure of Copenhagen."


The targets are highly contentious during the two years of discussions for good reasons. They imply that developing countries would have to cut their emissions overall by about 20 percent in absolute terms and at least 60 percent in per capita terms, the article noted.


By 2050, developed countries with high per capita emissions, such as the United States, would be allowed to have two to five times higher per capita emission levels than developing countries.


The developing countries "would have to severely curb not only their emissions but also their economic growth, especially since there is, up to now, no credible plans let alone commitments for financial and technology transfers to help them shift to a low emissions development path," it said.


The developed countries have already completed their industrialization on the basis of cheap carbon-based energy and can afford to achieve the 80 percent reduction goal for 2050, especially with adequate technologies and capacities, the article said.


If approved, the two targets would also seal a most unfair sharing of the remaining global carbon budget, as they would allow the developed countries to get off free from their historical responsibility and carbon debt, it added.


The article suggested that a minimally equitable deal for the developed countries should be at least 200 to 400 percent emission reduction, or they should move into negative emission territory to re-absorb greenhouse gases to give developing countries more atmospheric space to develop.


The article urged the participating members to learn the Copenhagen lesson and return to multilateral negotiations in the climate convention's two working groups as soon as possible, by starting with the two reports passed at Copenhagen as reference points.


It called on negotiating members to agree simultaneously on what science says is necessary for the world to do, and a just and equitable plan for sharing the costs and burdens of the adjustment to be made.


"The bottom-up democratic process is slower but also steadier, compared to the top-down attempt to impose a solution by a few powers that will always lack legitimacy in decision-making and success or sustainability in implementation," the article concluded.


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