Brief from Copenhagen

The UNFCCC climate negotiations are happening from 7 to 18 December 2009 in Copenhagen. The Energy Research Centre (ERC) is represented in several ways: Harald Winkler and Andrew Marquard are part of the South African delegation; other ERC researchers as well as interns are observing negotiations and attending the ‘side events’ -a whole conference around the negotiations – Meagan Jooste, Thapelo Letete, Max Edkins, Kim Coetzee, Nothando Mungwe and Anya Boyd. We will report in this blog some snippets of information and highlights that strike us as interesting.

For different scenarios of how Copenhagen negotiations may unfold, see an earlier article titled ‘Going for broke in Copenhagen’

South Africa’s Presidency made an important announcement on the eve of the negotiations. For the first time, the country has put numbers to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, as long as the support from developed countries (read: finance, technology and capacity-building) is forthcoming, and there is a deal, i.e. other countries to their bit. The full official statement explains the motivation and context to the headline numbers in this paragraph:

“As such, South Africa, being a responsible global citizen and in line with its obligations under article 4.1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change acknowledges its responsibility to undertake national action that will contribute to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In accordance with this, South Africa will undertake mitigation actions which will result in a deviation below the current emissions baseline of around 34% by 2020 and by around 42% by 2025. This level of effort enables South Africa’s emissions to peak between 2020 and 2025, plateau for approximately a decade and decline in absolute terms thereafter. This undertaking is conditional on firstly, a fair, ambitious and effective agreement in the international climate change negotiations under the Climate Change convention and its’ Kyoto Protocol and secondly, the provision of support, from the international community, and in particular finance, technology and support for capacity building from developed countries, in line with their commitments under both the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Bali Action Plan.”

by Harald Winkler.