Climate and energy funders briefing at COP15
On December 15, Senior GMF Fellow Nigel Purvis and Director of International Climate Policy at the World Resources Institute Rob Bradley briefed a delegation of 50 climate and energy funders on the status of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen.
Bradley discussed how the international negotiations in Copenhagen are charting new territory. For the first year, key issues will be kicked up to the ministerial level and even heads of state, making the negotiations highly political and difficult. The broad crunch issues facing the negotiations include developed country commitments, developing country actions, and financing. Bilateral cooperation between the United States and China will be critical to moving the negotiations forward on these roadblocks. At the moment, China is unwilling on principle to subject their national emissions reduction records to monitoring and verification by an international body. However, it is likely China will compromise on this issue for a price -- significant financing from developed countries for clean technology, sustainable development, and adaptation. Emerging economies have put together comprehensive national action plans on climate, which illustrates significant qualitative progress. However, putting these plans into action with the necessary funding is a considerable hurdle.
Another new element of the COP is the lack of clarity in the governing framework of the climate deal being negotiated. In the final days of the negotiations, people are unsure of what is actually being negotiated -- A treaty? A broad framework outlining a later treaty? A second commitment period for Kyoto? An entirely new framework under the UNFCCC? A hybrid of Kyoto and a new governance structure?
Answering this question will be reverted to the heads of state, which is a big concern for negotiators. Developing countries want to keep Kyoto alive as it legally binds developed countries to reduce carbon emissions. On the opposite side of this argument stand the EU, Japan, and other developed countries that understand engaging the United States is critical to the success of the negotiations and the United States politically cannot sign up to the Kyoto Protocol.
Purvis spoke about how the dynamics of the Copenhagen negotiations are diverting from those of Kyoto. Copenhagen is much more about the system than defining hard targets. The acronym agreed upon at COP13 in Bali regarding enforcement of developing actions, MRV (measurable, recordable, and verifiable), is at the heart of the COP15 agreement. As noted earlier, China is unwilling to subject its national emissions data to an international monitoring body. It will be critical for the U.S. and EU to present a united front on this issue. If Europe accommodates China, it puts the United States in a tough position as Obama would have to present a treaty to the Senate that delivers millions of dollars of funding to emerging economies like China without any international monitoring mechanism. The Senate is unlikely to pass such a treaty.
Issues that are likely to be punted in Copenhagen include a legal form of developing countries. China will likely have a modest set of actions and won't move on more until financing is in place. Another issue is long term financing, as the United States needs to be domestically prepared with a cap-and-trade system in order to put forth long term funding.
The message Congress is likely to hear from Copenhagen is that India and China will come to the table and agree to internationally verified and binding commitments once the United States comes to the table with funding.