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Copenhagen Roundup: Day 3

UNclimateA leak of a Danish draft proposal, which by all accounts has put a bigger wedge between rich and poor nations, set the tone for day three (Dec. 9) of the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen. In what is shaping up to be a developed versus developing country slugfest of words, developing countries have released a draft of their own.

The heated discussions began Dec. 8 when news leaked of a Danish draft proposal that was described by the Guardian as a document “prepared in secret” by a group of individuals known as “the circle of commitment”.

UN’s top climate diplomat Yvo de Boer responded by stating that it was an informal paper drafted ahead of the conference only for the purpose of consultations, reports the Guardian.

But representatives of developing nations including Lumumba Di-Aping, the Sudanese chairman of the group of 132 developing countries known as G77 plus China, were upset by the proposals stating the “text destroys both the UN convention on climate change and the Kyoto protocol,” reports the Guardian.

The G77 group denounced the Danish text stating that it favored rich countries on the key issues of emissions curbs and financing to combat climate change, reports Yahoo News (via AFP).

The document reveals that leaders want to hold global temperature rises to 2 degrees C, which is a safe level cited by scientists, and provide $10 billion in aid to help poor countries deal with climate change, starting in 2012, reports the Guardian.

The draft text also sets emissions-reductions targets for both developed and developing countries, with rich nations cutting their emissions from historical levels and poorer nations cutting their emissions based on projected levels, reports the LA Times.

But it does not set emissions-reduction targets for individual countries, and only sets a long-range target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 for developed countries, according to the article.

The EU said Dec. 8 that developing countries were not doing enough to justify a new treaty and more advanced countries like China and India should partly share the financial burden for climate change adaptation and mitigation, reports THISDAY Online.

In response, China is pushing developed countries, in particular the U.S., the European Union nations and Japan for stronger commitments, stating that all rich nations fell short of emissions cuts recommended by UN scientists, reports Aljazeera News.

Su Wei, the head of the Chinese delegation, said at a news conference that the success of the talks would be based in part on commitments from the U.S. and dismissed both the 17 percent target set by President Obama, and the $10 billion in financial aid, reports Aljazeera News.

China and India are still pushing for rich countries to cut carbon 40 percent below 1990 levels.

Yet, the Financial Times reports that some emerging countries, including China and India, want the Copenhagen agreement to be a continuation of the Kyoto protocol, which would carry no legal obligation to curb their emissions.

Negotiators were abuzz Dec. 9 about another draft — this one from Brazil, South Africa, India and China. Called the BASIC draft, and said to be approved by the four countries on Nov. 27, it is expected to become a Copenhagen declaration, reports Asian Lite.

Lacking some essential figures – though it provides details on how developed countries should finance developing countries – negotiators said the nine-page draft was done in a hurry in a response to the Danish draft, according to Asian Lite.

The document also discusses the importance of adaptation, technology development and transfer to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change, according to the article.

The draft consists of elements from both the UN’s Long Term Cooperative Action (LCA) to combat climate change, and the Kyoto Protocol, according to negotiators from developed and developing countries, reports Asian Lite.

In an attempt to convince world leaders that the U.S. is serious about cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson kicked off a series of daily events Dec. 9, reports the Chicago Tribune blog.

Released at a news conference in Copenhagen, and possibly undermining some climate talks, a new study from pro-development NGO, World Growth, indicates that deforestation rates have been overstated. World Growth says these overstated rates are being used to justify climate polices that will harm economic growth in developing countries.

The new report, “Conversion — The Immutable Link between Forestry and Development” (PDF), finds that deforestation contributes about 5 percent of global emissions instead of the 20 percent noted by groups such as WWF.

Since the majority of climate-change discussions centers on carbon-emissions reductions, a Special Feature from the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows evidence that by reducing non-CO2 pollutants such as such as black carbon soot, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), as well as expanding bio-sequestration through biochar production, can delay climate tipping points for abrupt climate change.

As an example, a researcher notes that if black carbon emissions are reduced by 50 percent worldwide by deploying emissions-control technologies it could delay the warming effects of CO2 by one to two decades, buying some time for countries to make substantial cuts in CO2.

On a lighter note, Copenhagen was named the greenest major city in Europe, followed by Stockholm, Oslo, Vienna, and Amsterdam, according to a Siemens study of 30 major cities in 30 European countries.

The European Green City Index evaluates the 30 cities in eight categories: CO2 emissions, energy, buildings, transportation, water, air quality, waste and land use, and environmental governance.

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