Copenhagen Climate Conference: the facts

7th-18th December 2009, The Bella Exhibition and Conference Centre, Ørestad, Copenhagen, Denmark.

At least 10,000 are expected this year, including government representatives, observer organizations, government officials, representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and accredited members of the media. Officials and ministers from 192 countries are expected to attend.

What’s on the agenda?
The climate agreement for the period from 2012; specifically obtaining an agreement that combines respect for the environment (a reduction in man-made greenhouse gases that have a negative effect on our climate system), living standards and long-term security of energy supply in the best way possible. Concrete proposals will be set out for action by the EU and the rest of the international community.

Key discussion points include seting the ‘baseline year’ against which specified reduction targets will be measured, the duration of the second commitment period, ie. 2012 til when? Also the proposed greenhouse gas reduction targets themselves for both the second commitment period and beyond. Whether the CDM will include as-yet-unproven Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology to receive funding as a way of allowing coal-fired power stations to continue operating and new ones to be built. An agreement to include measures to curb the rate of deforestation, especially of tropical rainforests in developing countries – otherwise known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). Discussing a framework to help countries adapt to inevitable climate change. Boost to research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of low-carbon and adaptation technologies.

Likely stumbling blocks will come from the United States in particular who has refused to make binding commitments unless major developing economies, such as China, are included in an agreement. Developing countries – most actively represented by the G-77 block – have indicated a willingness to cut emissions, but only if developed countries take a leadership role. Developing countries are reluctant to accept hard carbon emissions targets as they struggle to grow their economies. Richer countries don’t want to accept hard targets, or be responsible for funding mitigation, if developing economies won’t also accept limits. Everyone is waiting for the other to act on how deeply to cut their emissions of gases that contribute to climate change. No one wants to standalone.

What greenhouse gas reduction target could we consider a success? NGOs in many industrialised countries are calling for at least 40 per cent emission cuts by 2020, in line with the scientific evidence of the reductions needed to keep below a 2C rise in average global temperature.

Go to and find out about the International Day of Climate Action on 24 October aimed at increasing awareness before the conference in December.
The Ecologist

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