Monday, December 21, 2009

Gordon Brown calls for new group to police global environment issues

December 21, 2009

Gordon Brown calls for new group to police global environment issues

World leaders at Copenhagen summit

(Steffen Kugler/AFP/Getty Images)

Gordon Brown with world leaders on the final day of the Copenhagen summit on climate change

A new global body dedicated to environmental stewardship is needed to prevent a repeat of the deadlock which undermined the Copenhagen climate change summit, Gordon Brown will say tomorrow.

The UN's consensual method of negotiation, which requires all 192 countries to reach agreement, needs to be reformed to ensure that the will of the majority prevails, he feels.

The Prime Minister will say: "Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down those talks. Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries. One of the frustrations for me was the lack of a global body with the sole responsibility for environmental stewardship.

"I believe that in 2010 we will need to look at reforming our international institutions to meet the common challenges we face as a global community." The summit failed to produce a political agreement among all the countries. Delegates instead passed a motion on Saturday "taking note" of an accord drawn up the night before by five countries: the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

Despite being the first world leader to join the summit, Mr Brown was excluded from the key meeting where the compromise was decided.

Ed Miliband, the Climate Change Secretary, admitted today that the results of the Copenhagen conference were "disappointing" because of the absence of agreement on emissions targets or a deadline for turning the accord into a legally binding treaty.

Mr Miliband pointed the finger of blame at China for resisting a legal agreement and its rejection of a proposal for 50 per cent cut in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Efforts to give legal force to the commitments in the Copenhagen accord came up against "impossible resistance from a small number of developing countries, including China, who didn't want a legal agreement", he said.

Challenged over accusations that the agreement reached in Copenhagen failed to protect poor people in developing countries, Mr Miliband said: "The eventual outcome was disappointing. But the idea that walking away from agreement would have been better for people facing climate change is frankly ridiculous.

"I think we can protect and help those people's lives and indeed protect them from climate change through this agreement.

"The fact is that we have got fast-start finance of $10 billion a year flowing as a result of this agreement." He said it was important that countries had agreed for the need to make emissions cuts, even though they had failed to commit to specific targets.

"We won't know the precise shape of [the national emission targets] until the beginning of February, and we are going to have to push for them to be higher.

"Even though there were things we didn't achieve, the fact is we have got for the first time developing countries coming together and saying that they are going to reduce emissions, and the finance is flowing."

Mr Miliband rejected claims that Britain and the European Union were "sidelined" by their absence from a meeting at which President Obama and the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa thrashed out the basic shape of the accord.

"I don't think that was the meeting that in the end decided the agreement," he said. "The big decisions took place in a group of about 30 countries in which President Sarkozy, Chancellor Merkel and Gordon Brown were represented."

In the accord

• Agreement that "deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science"

• "Long co-operative action" needed to keep the global temperature increase below 2C

• Rich countries should submit proposals for economy-wide emission reduction targets for 2020 to the UN by January 31

• By the same date, developing countries should produce plans to cut the rate of growth of their emissions

• There should be international monitoring of any emission cuts in developing countries that are funded by rich countries

• A reassessment of the accord by 2015 to check whether emission reductions are on track to keep the temperature increase below 2C

• Consideration in 2015 of strengthening the goal to 1.5C

Not in the accord

• Emission targets, either for 2020 or 2050

• A date by which global emissions should peak

• Any deadline for turning the accord into a binding treaty

• A commitment on how much of the climate protection funding would be additional to existing overseas aid pledges

• Agreement on an international body to verify the emissions reported by each country

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