Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Umbrella over promises and under delivers

By Cherelle Jackson, Environment Weekly, Climate Pasifika

Copenhagen, 16 December
- A group of developed countries have promised to support efforts to ensure legally binding agreement at the end of the Copenhagen climate summit.

Represented by Penny Wong, Australias Minister of Climate Change, the Umbrella Group said commitment from all major economies was necessary for a solid outcome from the high level meeting.

"We recognize the industrial view of 2degrees Celsius outcome.  This can only be achieved if all act towards this target.  We are ready to make vision reality and we accept our responsibility to act."

Despite the promises, the commitment to stabilizing the increase in temperature from at 2 degrees Celsius goes against the hopes of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) who pledged 1.5 degrees to survive.

The Umbrella Group which is a loose coalition of non-European Union developed countries makes up a bulk of high emitting countries.  Although there is no formal list, the Group is usually made up of Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the US.

Wong said the Group is willing to go to great lengths for the sake of vulnerable countries in particular, small island states.

"We need a legally binding agreement of all major economies.  We differ in our capacity to act but we face a common threat and share a common future. Let's look to this future. The umbrella group stands ready to play full and fair part in a legal agreement to follow in 2010."

Wong says they are committed financially.

"We are prepared to put on the table emission targets that will reduce emissions, we are resolved to support financing, to assist vulnerable countries."

The Umbrella group again promised financial targets that the vulnerable countries had rejected.

"There is an emerging consensus to US$10 million dollars for mitigation and adaptation in vulnerable countries this is a key first step to providing financing to support adaptation."

Wong said the group supported substantial increases in financial investment but only after 2012.

She recognized action on the ground.

"Many countries both developed and developing have already demonstrated willingness to support at home. We need to internationalize this contribution to a low carbon future, we must know what gains we are making and therefore transparency is central."

Wong said a decision is vital.

"In the next three days we must seal the deal, we must give affect to full extent of what we agreed to in Bali, we must agree on how we translate political agreement to enduring commitment."

The Bali Road Map comprises a number of forward-looking decisions that represent the various tracks that are essential to reaching a secure climate future.  It includes the Bali Action Plan, which charts the course for a new negotiating process designed to tackle climate change, with the aim of completing this by 2009.

It also includes a 2009 deadline, the launch of the Adaptation Fund, a review of the Kyoto Protocol, as well as decisions on technology transfer and on reducing emissions from deforestation.

Wong assured their support of the Bali action plan and any action to ensure positive outcomes from the Copenhagen meeting.

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