Anger and despair follows climate deal

Posted: 19 December 2009

There were mixed reactions to today's climate deal, of which the 192 countries attending the Copenhagen summit 'took note' - and most are expected to sign up to. However, many environmental pressure groups and poor country delegates expressed deep disappoinment at the outcome.

Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said: "The US appears to be more interested in saving face than saving the planet.

"They are now using strong-arm tactics to bully the developing world into backing a plan that completely undermines the existing UN process and does little to diminish the growing threat of catastrophic climate change. This is completely unacceptable.

Police at COP15
Police at COP15
A police officer beats a protester at a road block during a demonstration outside the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Photo credit: Venturebeat
"This summit has been a complete failure - the climate accord should be sent to the recycling bin.

"The developed world, which has done most to create this crisis, must face up to its global responsibilites with a strong and fair agreement within months."

Shameful delay

Robert Bailey, Senior spokesperson for Oxfam International, said: "It is shameful that after two years of blood, sweat and tears, governments didn't finish the marathon on time.

"World leaders had a genuine chance here in Copenhagen to deliver the fair, ambitious and binding deal the world needed. But as the deal got cooked up, fairness was taken off the table and ambition watered down. In the early hours of the morning, any hopes of a legally binding deal were stripped out too.

"It is too late to save the summit, but its not too late to save the planet and its people. We have no choice but to forge forward towards a legally binding deal in 2010. This must be a rapid, decisive and ambitious movement, not business as usual."

Death sentence

Professor Michael Dorsey with the Climate Justice Now! Network, said: "The Accord is little more than rhetoric hiding a failure to actually address the climate crisis. This destructive Accord represents a death sentence for Africa, the Amazon, Indigenous Peoples, and small island nations."

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network said: "An accord secretly crafted without the participation of developing countries is another example of the US using its power to manipulate the outcome with no binding commitments.

"We are highly suspicious of the tactics of the US obstructing a Kyoto Protocol agreement, while at the same time aggressively trying to push through a forest carbon offset agreement called REDD+ with weak safeguards that could violate the land and forest rights of Indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities. Indigenous peoples here in Copenhagen have been demanding action - not false hopes and empty promises - and these delays and bullying tactics amount to continued carbon colonialism."

Describing the Copenhagen climate deal as 'the worst possible outcome' the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)said:

"The Copenhagen Accord that India plans to sign will instantly forgive industrialised countries' historical responsibility for climate change, eliminate the distinction between developed and developing countries, prevent effective action to curb global warming, and fatally undermine efforts to renew the Kyoto Protocol. This will be disastrous for the climate, and for India's most vulnerable communities."

"The Accord will not only be disastrous for the climate, it will freeze the inequity in the world for perpetuity," said Sunita Narain, director, CSE. "The Copenhagen Accord will not curb global greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to avoid a climate catastrophe; the world's and India's most vulnerable populations will pay the price."

Positive outcome

But there were positive reactions too.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the climate deal was sn "essential beginning". But the Accord, reached with key nations including China and Brazil, must be made legally binding next year, he said. The Washingtom-based World Resources Institute said that tough negotiations had finally yielded an important climate agreement. "The deal, which for the first time commits developed and developing countries to action on emissions and adaptation, removes the final obstacle to the adoption of binding climate policy in the United States."

Jonathan Lash, WRI President, said: "This is a important moment. Much more is needed, but today marks a foundation for a global effort to fight climate change."

"In the end, countries recognized that this is an issue of survival," Lash continued. "Rather than let their survival be held hostage by a handful of obstructionists, they concluded an agreement with significant emission cuts and financial pledges. These countries must now work without delay to make good on these commitments."

Forest gains

IUCN said world leaders in Copenhagen had taken 'a first and useful step' to slow the course of climate change, but a global legally binding climate change treaty must be the next step.

Deforestation, Sumatra
Deforestation, Sumatra
Deforestation, Sumatra. Global leaders are being challenged to back an ambitious target on stopping forest loss as a major element of efforts to avert the looming climate catastrophe. Photo WWF
It welcomed positive on issues such as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). "A clear idea of what is required to make REDD-plus work has now emerged with real potential to contribute up to 30 per cent of the global effort to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations over the next decade" says Stewart Maginnis, Director of Environment and Development at IUCN.

"Reducing the rate of deforestation and restoring degraded forest are among the most effective mitigation solutions. A further push must be made in 2010 towards full development of a REDD regime"

The UN Environment Programme also said the talks had had 'a positive outcome'. UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner,said: "This was perhaps not the big breakthrough some had hoped for, but neither was it a breakdown which at times seemed a possibility.

"The litmus test of developed countries' ambitions will in a sense come immediately. If the funds promised in the Accord start flowing swiftly and to the levels announced, then a new international climate change policy may have been born".