COPENHAGEN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE
Press conference by the UN executive secretary Ivo de Boer
Saturday 19 December - 2.15 p.m.
Ivo de Boer described the cop as a rollercoaster ride. He explained how 115 Heads of State arrived to celebrate an agreement with perhaps one of two details to decide amongst themselves, but what it ended up him spending about 10 hours in a stuffy room with 25 Heads of States including President of Lesotho, President Obama of the US and leaders like Merkel, Sarkozy, Brown and President of Maledives, President Lula of Brazil, drafting the text Copenhagen Accord. The text of that Accord was first agreed by those present and then embraced by larger constitutiency.
Regarding the engagement of 115 Heads of States, he said it has never happened before and he does not know if it will be ever happen again, but that it was that engagement that was responsible for the fact that we have now a Copenhagen Accord, which contains some important elements for addressing climate change (2C, science, money, mitigation).
However he underlined that it is not an accord which is legally binding at this point. We did not get industrialised countries pinned down to specific targets, the accord does not specify what developing countries need to do. It does not specify how 30 billion fast start is to be divied up between contributors.
Ivo de Boer said that the Accord is politically terribly important, but it must be recognised as a letter of intent, with ingredients of an architecture for a future agreement. It is not as much that we would have hoped for or what was expected. Not even the solid package of decisions that seemed to be within reach.
He said that what we do have is a strong Copenhagen accord, which we can certainly celebrate as a success, but it also reminds us of the huge ground that still needs to be covered.
Looking back at the efforts made, during 2 years we have had 9 negotiation meetings, APEC, ASEAN, major economies forum, etc, Danish presidency has held a number of ministerial informal meetings and the Danish PM did a great effort in getting the engagement of the Heads of States. Despite that effort we got to where we got.
What was on our doorstep, what almost there? Commitments from all industrialised countries, the major developing countries outlined national action plans that would take their emissions to about 28% below business as usual. Recalling IPCC 25-40% and 15-30% ranges, he said industrialised countries are with what is on the table not in their range, but developing countries are closer to the higher end of the rage and therefore more on track with science.
But this was not captured in a legal agreement. We have received pledges adding up to about 23 bn USD for fast start funding, we did not manage to capture in agreement who contribute what. He said that a great deal of energy invested, a great deal was within our grasp.
Ivo de Boer was humble of the huge challenge ahead of us. Although negotiation deadlines move forward and emissions targets can be adjusted, the sciene does not change. Peak comes closer and closer and the opportunity to make it in the window allowed to us in accordance of science is getting smaller.
He noted the huge political political investment, engagement on the part of all countries, huge commitment from both north and south for actions, and for international financing. The challenge ahead is to capitalase that and to turn that to something really reportable, measureable and verifiable for Mexico in the true sense of the word.
Answering a question on the status of the accord, is it a UN deal or whether it exists outside as it was not adopted, Ivo de Boer expained that there is a decision that takes note of the fact that this accord was achieved. He says that for him it does not matter that much where it lives. Number of world leaders pulled that off, it is still their commitment. They made that deal for it to ultimately find home in the UNFCCC process. He says that he is more impressed by the magnitude of the political commitment than concerned over the home where it lives.
When being asked about whether any chance for optimism for a legally binding deal in Mexico, given the difficulties, he responded to be confident, due to science and the fact that we will then be a year closer to end of Kyoto Protocol first commitment period and the window for ensuring continuity for carbon market will have become smaller.
Ivo de Boer said that significant was also some language that was not ultimately agreed but was on the table and with some more time could have found its way to the text, which is a global target for emissions reductions of 50% by 2050 and 80% by 2050 for industrialised countries. He expects business community to press political leaders for certainty and clarity to have the signals they need for their investment decisions.
When interrogated on the extraordinary events and the difficulties and the speculation about who is in the accord and who is not, and if this proves that you cannot get a binding instrument in UN any more, Ivo de Boer said that he interprets the fact that President Obama came for for second time in a week to a Nordic country to inside the UN setting build a kerel of a future agreement as important.
He commented on the process of bringing a limited number of countries together as quite a usual way of UN work, groups that are more manageable to discuss with and that are nonetheless representative of significant constituencies. The deal, he says, then is to sell the outcome effectively to the broader constituency and to ensure the backing mandate of the constituency one is representing.
Ivo de Boer admitted you could argue that it'd be much more effective to address climate change in G20 where you have 85% of global emissions around the table. He said it would be correct from an emissions point of view but not from an equity or human rights point of view. What you then do not have around the table are the 100 odd countries that have not contributes anything to climate change, with minuscule economies but which are at the frontline of experiecing effects of climate change already.
He said people went to the trouble of establishing UN for tackling global concerns such as climate change equitably and taking the concerns of all in to account. He admits that it can be laborious, with 193 members in the family.
What does ''taking note of'' mean, was asked. He said that it is recognising something is there, but not directly associating yourself with it. He explained that vast majority, almost all expressed support for the accord. However it makes people nervous as well. It talks of developing country action and ''measurable, verifiable and reportable'' and to have access to the financial resources needing to meet some standards. People want to be part of designing how it is going to work
He said that we have to achieve in Mexico all the things we were supposed to do here, legally bindging instrument under the Convention, capturing action by US and developing countries, target for 2020 for industrialised countries, long term goal, financial architecture, and mobilisation of finance for adaptation, mitigation and techology deployment, and an outcome that sees a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.