Barack Obama and Wen Jiabao disappoint!

After today’s speeches by Wen Jiabao and Barack Obama today at noon it became clear that COP15 will end with a disappointment. The US and China have not moved with regards to their emission reduction targets compared to the insufficient targets that were already discussed before the summit in Copenhagen. So, the public expectations for an ambitious political declaration were further lowered.

In fact, China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao didn’t attend the negotiations of approx. 20 heads of states/governments in the morning and didn’t communicate clear emission reduction targets in the plenum. The mentioned 45% reduction target per unit of GDP is essentially an increase in overall emissions in 2020 and is therefore as disappointing as Barack Obama’s confirmed emissions reduction target of 17% in 2020 based on 2005 levels which is essentially only an insufficient reduction of 4% based on 1990 levels.

But the US/Chinese disappointment tandem has a problem: Everyone knows these tricks and therefore not even a rhetorically brilliant Barack Obama can make anyone still believe in the “historic endeavor” that he mentioned in his speech. The silent applause in the conference hall as well as the angry reactions on Twitter were a clear answer! So, what can we now expect from today’s final hours of the UN Climate Change Conference?

In the field of emission reduction targets, COP15 will probably be a failure. The only remaining question is whether the European Union will get back to its 20% target after it has been disappointed by the US and China. If the 2° target is part of a final political declaration without concrete and ambitious emissions reduction targets, this would become a political farce.

In the field of financing of adaptation measures in developing countries, the annual $ 10 bn upfront payments in 2010-12 should be fixed after Barack Obama’s commitment today but Hillary Clinton’s announced annual $ 100 bn fund from 2020 onwards will depend on certain conditions that Obama proposed in the morning. Nevertheless, this fund will become one of the main results of COP15 and will serve as a tranquilizer for disappointed developing countries.

For the rest of the final day, we can only join the Brazilian President Lula da Silva in hoping for a wonder…


Note: This blogpost was also published on the TH!NK ABOUT IT website.

Posted on December 18, 2009 in Climate Change

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About the Author

Andreas Lindinger is a Vienna-based business consultant, sustainability expert and urban thinker passionate about livable cities, sustainable transportation, renewable energy and civic engagement. Andreas offers a transdisciplinary business, finance and sustainability background, industry expertise in energy, mobility and environmental consulting and broad international experience gained in Vienna, Vancouver, Berlin and Dublin. Make sure to also check out and to follow @lindinger on Twitter.

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