From the TUC

Copenhagen Diary #15: blogging off

21 Dec 2009, by in Environment

Today (Monday) ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder called on world leaders “to meet again within months to meet the expectation of the world’s people and conclude such a treaty. We need a binding agreement that delivers a habitable planet, decent work, binding emissions reductions and financial support for the most vulnerable.”

The weekend papers were full of climate heroes and villains. What I remember of the last two days is the sense of increasing disorientation, anxiety, loss of control, anger (made worse by bumping into Nick Griffin). Where we once felt engaged in a UN process, however tenuously at times, we now felt enraged. An abiding memory is of human swarms in the scented wake of political leaders. Where are they going now? And Why?

Did the TUC or the UK NGO community get any substantial political access to the UK’s doubtless committed officials and politicos in the last two days? No. Any briefing? Update? Not that I know of. Did we ask? Don’t ask. Leaked documents? Some. 6pm, say. No, not that version. Look at this one, they’ve dropped a legally binding deal. What? An hour later. No not that one, there’s no 2020 target. What? For a labour movement that has consistently backed a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal, this stunned us, to be honest.

Must put on record that that on Friday afternoon, before document leaking began in earnest, we can take pride in the fact that ITUC President Sharan Burrow addressed the Summit Plenary, saying we must all take responsibility for this global challenge. Welcoming the support expressed by governments for a just transition to a low carbon future, “as a driver for decent work and good quality job creation”. She thanked those governments that understood the potential of these paragraphs for building broad support across the global labour movement for climate action.

That was then.

So, cutting through the gloom, it looks like the following decisions were taken.

The five largest emitters (USA, China, India, Brazil and S. Africa) signed a Copenhagen Accord. Its main achievement is the objective to keep the maximum global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius:

“we shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius, on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development, enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change.”

In the Observer today, Colin Blakemore wrote that what Copenhagen has established is that a new force is at work in international diplomacy – science. Let’s hope.

Its two great failures are the absence in the text of a six to 12 month deadline for delivering a legally binding deal. And the absence of a long-term CO2 reduction target to 2050.

The UN itself decided at the death merely to “take note of the Copenhagen Accord.”  On the plus side, as this directly affects the many paragraphs on labour and human rights, gender and youth issues, decent work, investment in low carbon growth, and stakeholder engagement, the UN decided to ask the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action to “continue its work” up to the next climate conference in Mexico in December. It decided also to similarly mandate further work on the Kyoto Protocol. Frankly, these two decisions are major for the ITUC.

There will be a new IPCC global scientific assessment in 2014. It’s something that the Accord recognises this:

We call for an assessment of the implementation of this Accord by 2015 … This would include consideration of strengthening the long-term goal … presented by the science, including in relation to temperature rises of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This review can’t come a day too soon.

One Response to Copenhagen Diary #15: blogging off

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