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Copenhagen Climate Conference: Day 1

UNclimateThe 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) gets underway today in Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen for a 12-day conference to establish a new global treaty to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol is set to expire in 2013. High hopes for the meeting were dashed a few weeks ago when some world leaders decided not to seek a binding climate change agreement in Copenhagen. Hopes have risen since then as two of the world’s largest emitters, China and the U.S., have set emission reduction targets.

As 192 nations convene in Copenhagen, a number of companies and organizations are making it very clear what they want accomplished at the climate conference.

As an example, global companies — including Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Lafarge, Tetra Pak, Nokia and HP — have partnered with global environment organization World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to urge global leaders to agree on a climate deal and set ambitious emissions reductions.

As part of the campaign dubbed, “Let The Clean Economy Begin” (video), many of the big brand companies have launched their own campaign slogans.

As an example, Nokia Siemens Networks says: “Climate responsibility is simple — it’s just good business sense.” The company is committed to reduce its CO2 footprint by 2 million tons by improving the energy efficiency of its base stations by up to 40 percent, reducing energy consumption in buildings by 6 percent by 2012, and increasing the use of renewable energy in company operations to 50 percent by 2010.

Companies involved in the WWF’s Climate Savers program are expected to reduce emissions by 50 million tons from 1999 to 2010.

Accountancy bodies are also partnering to call for one set of standards for climate change reporting. The ICAEW, the Climate Disclosure Standards Board and The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project, together with 12 accountancy institutes, have sent an open letter to leaders attending the Copenhagen Convention urging them for a standard for climate change-related disclosures.

In addition to emissions, the Stockholm International Water Institute wants the issue of water discussed at Copenhagen, despite recent references to water dropped from the COP15 negotiation texts in order to simplify negotiations, reports The News Market. The institute says water is one of the most important elements to mitigating and adapting to climate change.

On Saturday about 400 delegates arrived in Copenhagen from Brussels in CO2-neutral style — by railway, reports The News Market. This was ahead of final preparations to ensure beefed up security for the 105 leaders expected to attend the conference, reports the National Post.

Most agree that the biggest point of contention among developed and developing countries will be how to fund measures to curb emissions and protect developing countries from climate change.

The United Nations hopes the agreement includes targets for developed countries, and a fund to help poor nations adapt, but even the host nation concedes the meeting may have to resume in six months to sign a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC).

Climate talks are a little closer to failure after email leaks allege that some climate scientists at Britain’s East Anglia University manipulated data, which indicates to skeptics that climate research is flawed or even concocted, reports ABC.

In a recent interview with POLITICO, former Vice President Al Gore, who will making a speech at Copenhagen and meeting with delegations, agreed with the United Nations that it is important at Copenhagen to have a binding political agreement that both developed and developing countries sign on to, and countries like India and China willing to act on climate change.

Gore also told POLITICO that he is impressed by President Obama’s large green stimulus package and the EPA’s binding regulations that will require CO2 reductions whether legislation is passed or not, along with regulations that require large emitter to report CO2 emissions.

If you don’t have the time or miss details on delegation meetings and votes, the Sustainability Institute launched the Climate Scoreboard, an online tool that will track the progress of climate-change negotiations on a daily basis.

Before the opening of the conference, the climate tracker estimates a temperature increase of 3.8 degrees C (7.0 degrees F) over pre-industrial if current proposals were implemented as compared to a 4.8 degrees C (8.7 degrees F) temperature increase by 2100 without emissions reductions.

The Wall Street Journal presents an excellent synopsis of what each country wants to get out of the Copenhagen talks. Each country has its own priorities and concerns, which will make it extremely difficult for all leaders to agree upon, according to the article.

As an example, the U.S. may still commit to cut emissions about 17 percent by 2020, while offering funding of low-carbon initiatives for poorer countries, reports the Wall Street Journal. In return, the Administration wants other countries, mainly China and India, to commit on when their greenhouse-gas emissions will peak, along with stringent standards for reporting, monitoring and verification of emissions and reductions, reports the newspaper.

There are also signs that countries are beginning to look more favorably at carbon trading systems by individual countries while meeting international standards, though it is highly doubtful that countries will introduce emissions trading schemes at Copenhagen, reports the Telegraph.

However, the CBI business lobby group believes the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), should be rolled out internationally, and that London should be the center for any future global carbon market, reports the Telegraph.

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7 thoughts on “Copenhagen Climate Conference: Day 1

  1. Hopefully Americans as well as other nations will want to cooperate with what th UN is trying to do. They should enforce it more and stop cutting people some slack..

  2. Countries should consider offering tax breaks, among other incentives, to various companies/entities and products, which under scrutiny, show a measurable constant/accelerated positive shift towards creating and adopting green technologies. This could be offset by progressively increasing taxes on the companies/entities and products that do not show any measurable signs of progress on the climate front.

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