Half-time Review of Climate Negotiations

At the Bella Center, home of the COP15 negotiations
At the Bella Center, home of the COP15 negotiations
It's halftime at the climate negotiations in Copenhagen. Thus it is a good opportunity to analyze what happened last week and discuss what we can expect in the coming week, with a focus on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and new proposed trading schemes.

On Friday, a new draft text was released that focuses on reforms to the CDM.  From the perspective of International Rivers, most of the reforms would not be considered improvements. The only option on the table that would improve the environmental integrity of the CDM is discounting.

In the negotiations, new market mechanisms are also being discussed, but thus far all of the sessions have been closed and no new negotiating text has been released to the public. In negotiating sessions earlier this year, all of the new mechanisms discussed are some form of sectoral crediting.  There are considerable risks including setting of weak baselines that would result in flooding the carbon market.

Overall, there was quite a bit of drama this past week. Tensions came to a head over the secret meetings that Danish leaders and representatives from the U.S. and some European Union countries have been holding. A secret negotiating text has been leaked and developing countries are rightly furious about it. The Danish government, as hosts of the meeting are expected to provide a fair and transparent process. This back room maneuvering by developed countries further increased the distrust without parties, rather than helping to broker a fair and ambitious deal. 

Fortunately, small islands states and Africa are doing all they can to get the negotiations focused on the substance, including limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C, 350 ppm and cuts on the order of 45% by Annex I countries. They will not sign a suicide path. A deal must be fair, ambitious and binding. Otherwise the consequences include loss of life for millions of people in the most vulnerable regions of the world. Developing countries have laid out a clear way forward. Will developed countries stand up to the challenge?