Editorial: Checklist for Copenhagen

As reported in this issue, the latest research emphasizes the necessity to make drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and as soon as possible if we are to avoid disastrous climate change.

In the run-up to the Copenhagen summit, Climate Action Network (CAN) has produced a checklist of the essentials for a successful climate agreement. The main essentials are:

A commitment to keep warming well below 2ºC.

  • Reducing greenhouse gas concentrations ultimately to 350 ppm CO2 equivalents;
  • Peaking global emissions within the 2013–2017 commitment period and rapidly declining emissions to at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
  • Achieving this in a way that fully reflects the historic and current contributions of developed countries to climate change and the right of developing countries to sustainable development.

Industrialized countries must cut emissions by more than 40% by 2020.

  • Reductions for individual countries should be assigned based on historic and present responsibility for emissions as well as current capacity to reduce emissions.
  • The use of offsets must be limited. As long as developed country targets fall short of ensuring that domestic emissions are reduced by at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2020, there is no room – or indeed need – for offsets.
  • Accounting for emissions and removals from Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) must be based on what the atmosphere sees.
  • Major sources of emissions must be accounted for, for example forest and peatland degradation.
  • LULUCF credits must not undermine or substitute for the significant investments and efforts required to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

Developing countries must be supported in their efforts to limit the growth of their industrial emissions, making substantial reductions below business-as-usual.

Emissions from deforestation and degradation must be reduced to zero by 2020, funded by at least US$35 billion per year from developed countries.

Developed countries need to provide at least US$195 billion in public financing per year by 2020, in addition to ODA commitments, for developing country actions.

Double counting must be avoided.

Copenhagen outcomes must be legally binding and enforceable.

Until the international community agrees to a system that provides better environmental outcomes, a stronger compliance mechanism, and has widespread support, the Kyoto Protocol should continue with a second commitment period. A complementary agreement should provide emission reduction commitments by the US comparable to other developed countries, incorporate financial commitments, and cover developing country action.

In the run-up to Copenhagen, please use this list to influence your governments. During and after Copenhagen, use the list as a scorecard to track the progress of the climate negotiations and evaluate the outcomes.

Christer Ågren

In this issue