Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Copenhagen enters into culmination

Adelina Marini, December 16, 2009

Late in the afternoon in Copenhagen world leaders will start arriving for the negotiations of a new climate deal. Protests in the Danish capital are also expected to get more violent. It's also getting harder to forecast the outcome of the summit that has started 10 days ago. Negotiations among environment ministers and officials from 192 countries participating in the summit have continued for several days but instead of unfastening the knot it is getting more tangled.

The main questions have again remained with no answer - how will the money for climate change adaptation in developing countries be distributed? How will carbon dioxide emissions be reduced, and how will this burden be shared out between countries? Now on the table is a draft proposal which, in the view of the USA and the EU, among others, does not involve sufficiently high commitments from developing countries. Last night's negotiations lasted until this morning.

At today's plenary it is expected speeches to have the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, the British prime minister Gordon Brown. the Finnish president Tarja Halonen and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

So far there is no significant change in commitments, offered previously by the key groups of states, presented sketchily by the BBC:

- China requires a binding goal for carbon emissions reduction based upon unit of GDP with 40-45% from 2005 levels by 2020. Beside this Beijing insists rich states to cut their emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020. China also wants richer states to pay 1% of their GDP per year to help other countries adapt and asks the West to provide low-carbon technology. China is the world's biggest GHG producer - 20.7% of global emissions. Measured per capita it is 30th in the world. The GDP of the country for 2008 was $4.3 trillion. Beijing has signed the Kyoto Protocol but as a developing country so it is not obliged to cut emissions.

- USA offer 17% reduction of their emissions below 2005 levels by 2020 pending congressional approval. This commitment equals 4% of the 1990 levels. The US is the second largest world greenhouse gas producer - 15.5% of global emissions. According to the indicator per capita Washington rates 5th in the world. The GDP for 2008 was $14.2 trillion. The ex-president George W. Bush signed the Kyoto Protocol but it was never ratified.

- EU has committed to cut its emissions by 20% by 2020 below 1990 levels and by 30% if other countries make similar commitments. The Europeans insist poor nations to cut their emissions growth and have calculated that the costs of their commitment would be $150 bn per year by 2020 of which $7-22 bn would come from public finances. The EU is ranking third biggest producer of greenhouse gases - 11.8% of global emissions. Per capita the European rank between the US and China - 17th. The overall EU GDP for 2008 was $18.3 trillion. EU member states have signed the Kyoto Protocol and have ratified it. According to the Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas the EU will succeed to fulfill its commitments to cut its emissions by 8% below 1990 levels for the period 2008-2012.

- India will cut its carbon contribution based upon unit per GDP by 20-25% below 2005 levels by 2020. New Delhi rejects legally binding target, but wants rich countries to have obligatory commitments. The main argument of India is that rich countries are to blame for climate change and points to big gap in per capita emissions. The country is the 6th largest producer of greenhouse gases - 5% of global emissions. Per capita the country rates 66th. It has a very low GDP for 2008 as well - $1.2 trillion. New Delhi has signed the Kyoto Protocol but as a developing country so it is not obliged to cut its emissions.

- Japan also offers to cut its emissions by 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 but if other countries show similar ambition. Tokyo backs the rarely discussed proposals in which each country would set its own commitments. Japan is the 7th largest greenhouse gases producer in the world and is responsible for 3.3% of global emissions. Per capita Tokyo also rates in the first 20 - 15th and its GDP for 2008 was $4.9 trillion. According to the Kyoto Protocol Japan has to cut its emissions by ^5 below 1990 levels by 2012.

- African Union, as well as China, wants rich countries to make legally binding commitments to cut their emissions by 40% and says that 20 and even 30% cuts is unacceptable. African countries insist rich countries to pay 0.5%of their GDP to assist developing nations. Members of the Union are 50 African states, including Egypt, Libya, South Africa, Tunisia, Somalia and Algeria. All of them are responsible for 8.1% of global emissions. Their overall GDP for 2008 was $34 bn. They have also signed the Kyoto Protocol but as developing countries, meaning they have no legally binding commitments to cut their emissions.

- The next group, outlined by the BBC is of the Gulf states. Those are the OPEC states and Saudi Arabia. They want financial compensations if a new agreement requires cuts of fossil fuels. This group of states supports a deal that would advance use of carbon capture and storage. In 2007 OPEC members pledged $750m to fund climate change research. This group is responsible for 2.3% of global emissions and their overall GDP accounts for $468 bn. They have also signed the Kyoto Protocol but as developing countries.

- The last group consists of the most vulnerable states - the Alliance of Small Island Nations. They regard rising sea level as threat to their existence and seek to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels and not 2 degrees as most states prefer. They also want global emissions to peak by 2015 and fall 85% below 1990 level by 2050. They say rich countries should pat at least 1% of GDP for climate-inflicted damage, caused by them. Small island states are responsible for 0.6% of global emissions and their GDP for 2008 was $46 bn.