Saturday, 19 December 2009

Copenhagen Accord: Triumph of spin over substance

The ‘climate deal’ presented in Copenhagen (>>> Copenhagen Accord) is a triumph of spin over substance says Oxfam International. The deal provides no confidence that catastrophic climate change will be averted or that poor countries will be given the money they need to adapt as temperatures rise. Leaders have also put off agreeing a legally binding deal until the end of 2010. Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International said: “This deal barely papers over the huge differences between countries which have plagued these talks for two years.

The document recognizes the need to keep warming below 2° but does not commit to do so. The deal promises $100bn a year in climate cash for poor countries by 2020. This is an aspirational goal not a commitment – poor countries will have no confidence that they will receive the money they need to reduce their emissions and adapt to a changing climate. $100bn is only half the money needed. The shortfall could mean that health workers in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa will not get the $1.5bn they need each year to prevent climate induced deaths from malaria and diarrhoea. There are no assurances that the $100bn will be additional to existing aid commitments. This means aid for education and health care could be diverted to pay for flood defenses. The $100bn will not all be public money. Unless climate cash comes from public sources, there are no guarantees that it will reach the right people, in the right places, at the right time.

Global temperature rises will be kept below 2° C, the Accord says. In reality the absence of any emissions reductions targets means there is no guarantee warming will be kept below 2°. Climate science is clear on the need for deep emissions cuts by 2020. Specific targets are essential. Shorbanu Khatun, a climate migrant at the summit with Oxfam said: “I came all the way from a displaced persons camp on the flooded coast of Bangladesh to see justice done for the 45,000 people made homeless by cyclone Aila. How do I tell them their misery has fallen on deaf ears?”

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