Report: The Copenhagen Accord: A Stepping Stone?

Posted on 29 January 2010    
The Copenhagen Accord is far from the fair, ambitious and binding deal the world needs to prevent dangerous climate change. Based on an analysis of the Accord’s strength and weaknesses, however, WWF believes it could become a stepping stone towards a fair, ambitious and binding deal. In WWF’s view, the Accord could inform and advance the UN climate negotiation process, for which a 2010 work plan and schedule must be established quickly.

To utilize the Accord’s potential and to build trust, countries should submit their mitigation actions/targets by 31 January or as soon as possible thereafter. Countries should also make immediate progress towards operationalizing the funds, mechanisms and guidelines agreed in the Copenhagen Accord. Finally, they have to turn urgent attention to adaptation and adaptation finance, areas where the Copenhagen Accord is disappointing and particularly weak. These issues are hugely important for the most vulnerable countries, as they already suffer from climate impacts and will face major challenges in the near future.

Country submissions must be guided by the goal to keep global warming below 2 °C, a goal enshrined in the Copenhagen Accord. There is a large gap between the most ambitious emission cuts pledged to date and the reductions needed to give even a moderate chance to reach the goal. A range of authoritative estimates put the gap in 2020 at around 2 to 5 gigatons CO2e. In 2007, the entire annual emissions of the 27 EU countries were around 5 gigatons.

However, the gigatons gap might be even bigger, as current estimates are based on some overly optimistic assumptions so far not matched by reality. Notably, the various studies ignore a series of dangerous loopholes which threaten to undermine the integrity of the targets countries currently put forward. This could greatly widen the gigatons gap, according to WWF estimates by perhaps 2 to 3 gigatons.

To put the world on course for a safer future, governments must act urgently to close the gap and deliver the “missing gigatons”. This will require more ambitious targets, action to close off the loopholes and creative thinking to unleash real, concrete actions on the ground. This could increase trust and ambition among parties and lead to agreement on a fair, ambitious and binding treaty in the UN climate process.

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