Copenhagen Accord marks significant step towards shaping first truly global climate pact

United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP 15 concluded on 18 December with 128 heads of State or Government participating in the two-week-long event

The Secretary-General welcomed the outcome of the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP-15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the fifth meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. He thanked the Government of Denmark for hosting the Conference and leading the negotiations to a successful conclusion with substantive outcomes.

The collected decisions of the parties fulfill in large part the benchmarks for success laid down at the September 2009 Summit on Climate Change at United Nations Headquarters. The Secretary-General particularly appreciates the many Heads of State and Government who have demonstrated their global political leadership to make this deal possible.

Among the outcomes of the Conference, the Copenhagen Accord marks a significant step forward in negotiations for the first truly global agreement that can limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support adaptation for the most vulnerable and help to establish a new era of environmentally sustainable growth.

Parties to the Accord agreed to work towards a common, long-term goal to limit global temperature rise to below 2° Celsius. Developed countries have committed to establish and implement targets for greenhouse gas emissions, and a number of developing countries, including major emerging economies, have agreed to implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions and communicate their efforts every two years.

In this Accord, countries also agreed on the importance of acting to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and also agreed to provide comprehensive support to the most vulnerable to cope with climate change. The Accord specifically calls for immediate establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus, to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries.

In addition, the Accord also establishes three new bodies: a High-Level Panel under the COP to study the implementation of financing provisions, the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund and a Technology Mechanism. The establishment of the High-Level Panel could be a major development in involving business and private sectors in climate change policy setting processes.

To support these priorities, countries pledged up to $30 billion a year between 2010 and 2012, to be disbursed through a Copenhagen Green Climate Fund. Countries also backed the goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 for developing countries.

On 16 December 2009, the United States, Australia, France, Japan and Great Britain together pledged $3.5 billion over three years to “slow, halt and eventually reverse” deforestation in developing countries. These pledges build on the $1 billion contribution that Norway pledged in 2008.

In the coming months, the Secretary-General will work with Member States to ensure that the commitments enshrined in the Copenhagen Accord can be converted into a global, legally binding treaty as soon as possible in 2010.

Technology transfer – time for action

Following the UNFCCC COP13 in Bali, the United Nations Chief Executives Board (CEB) declared technology transfer as one of the focus areas of the UN system’s work on climate change. The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and DESA have been assigned the task of co-convening a process to support UN system-wide coherence and international cooperation on climate change-related technology development and transfer.

In this capacity, the COP 15 Side Event on International Cooperation on Technology Transfer: Time for Action held on 16 December was co-organized by UNIDO and DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development and chaired by Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General of DESA. Since, low-carbon technologies are central to addressing climate change and development, the event focused on actions and strategies to hasten the transfer of clean technologies world-wide as well as the promotion of energy for sustainable development.

The event brought together heads of major United Nations organizations and other agencies to discuss the role of international cooperation in accelerating the global development and deployment of climate friendly technologies, particularly in developing countries. It featured statements and input from the heads of DESA, UNDP, GEF, WIPO, UNIDO, UNEP, IRENA and the UN Foundation. H.E. Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India participated as a special guest.

Forest Day 3

DESA’s United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat (UNFFS) co-hosted the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) Forest Day 3 event on 13 December 2009. Close to 1,500 representatives from government delegations, international organizations and civil society gathered at Forest Day 3, to ensure that forest-based climate change solutions remained high on the agenda at the UNFCCC COP 15 discussions. The event featured luminaries such as Gro Harlem Brundtland, Nobel laureates Elinor Ostrom, Rajendra Pachauri and Wangari Maathai and a video message from former US President Bill Clinton.

UNFFS co-hosted two key events at Forest Day 3, a learning event on strategies for increasing financing for forests and climate change and a sub-plenary session on Forest Degradation which highlighted the importance of degraded forests (the second “D”) in REDD+.

Ms. Jan McAlpine, Director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, chaired and facilitated the learning event discussion on financing for forests and climate change. The main message from this event was that REDD+ could provide 30% of the global abatement potential by 2020and that financing in the order of 25 billion Euros per year from all sources is needed. REDD+ initiatives must include attention to the social, economic and environmental aspects and start in a phased approach immediately; delaying action until 2015 would “cost” 16 giga tons of carbon lost.”

The sub-plenary session on degradation was moderated by Fiona Harvey of The Financial Times. The main message from the sub-plenary session was that improved forest governance is a prerequisite to reversing degradation and that forest restoration provides an immense opportunity to address the widespread degradation of forest lands and significantly enhance carbon stocks and also provides important opportunities for adaptation.

Based on Press Release SG/SM/12682 and UN News (21 December 2009)

More information on side event on International Cooperation on Technology Transfer: