What are the dates?
Where exactly is it?
How many people will attend the conference?
Traditionally, the COP/CMP attracts several thousand participants. At least 10,000 are expected this year. Included in this number are government representatives, observer organizations, government officials, representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and accredited members of the media.
From how many countries?
Officials and ministers from 192 countries are expected to attend.
How big is the press contingent likely to be?
Previous COPs have attracted nearly 1,500 accredited members of the media. There will be a significant number of press conferences held during COP15. The program for these press conferences will be put together by the UNFCCC, and will be available during the conference.
What’s on the agenda?
The climate agreement for the period from 2012; specifically obtaining an agreement that combines respect for the environment (a reduction in man-made greenhouse gases that have a negative effect on our climate system), living standards and long-term security of energy supply in the best way possible. Concrete proposals will be set out for action by the EU and the rest of the international community.
What predictions have been made for the outcome?
Björn Stigson, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, has neatly summarised six very different possible outcomes:
1. A 'real deal': the US and China provide the driver for a new, ambitious and comprehensive agreement.
2. Business as usual: the various countries follow current national targets.
3. A limited deal: headed by for example the Group of Eight (G8) a deal outside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is found.
4. A mere prolonging of the present agreement, the Kyoto Protocol.
5. A stretching of the Copenhagen conference (COP15) into 2010.
6. 'Window dressing': a grand declaration but no real deal.
What are the key discussion points?
- The 'baseline year' against which specified reduction targets will be measured, the duration of the second commitment period, ie. 2012 til when?
- The proposed greenhouse gas reduction targets themselves for both the second commitment period and beyond.
- Whether the agreement will be expanded to include greenhouse gases that are currently excluded from the Kyoto Protocol, for example the international maritime industry and the international aviation industry.
- Whether the rules governing the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) will be tightened to ensure environmental integrity and avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions, or whether they will be relaxed to encourage more investment.
- Whether the CDM will include as-yet-unproven Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology to receive funding as a way of allowing coal-fired power stations to continue operating and new ones to be built.
- An agreement to include measures to curb the rate of deforestation, especially of tropical rainforests in developing countries – otherwise known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).
- Discussing a framework to help countries adapt to inevitable climate change. All developed and developing countries should be required to develop comprehensive national adaptation strategies. Financial and technological support should be provided to the most vulnerable developing countries.
- Boost to research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of low-carbon and adaptation technologies.
What are the likely stumbling blocks?
The United States in particular has refused to make binding commitments unless major developing economies, such as China, are included in an agreement. Developing countries – most actively represented by the G-77 block – have indicated a willingness to cut emissions, but only if developed countries take a leadership role.
Developing countries are reluctant to accept hard carbon emissions targets as they struggle to grow their economies. Richer countries don't want to accept hard targets, or be responsible for funding mitigation, if developing economies won't also accept limits.
Everyone is waiting for the other to act on how deeply to cut their emissions of gases that contribute to climate change. No one wants to standalone.
What key objections/proposals do nations have?
The United States in particular has refused to make binding commitments unless major developing economies, such as China, are included in an agreement.
South Africa won't consider the next round of climate change talks successful unless rich nations set aside money to help them address global warming. It is calling for financial and technological support.
Mexico has tabled a proposal for aid to be made available to poor countries in their struggle to cope with climate change.
UK proposes each of the G-20 nations find their own way of funding their efforts to control climate change. The position is opposed by India, China, South Africa and Brazil. UK also suggests that all national plans, such as the Five-Year Plans for India, shoudl would be open to international examination. Again, India opposes the idea.
Norway proposes to use funding from industrialised countries’ emissions budgets to generate revenue for international cooperation.
Members of the Alliance for Small Island Developing States (AOSIS) propose increased risk management and risk reduction strategies, including risk sharing and transfer mechanisms such as insurance.
What greenhouse gas reduction target could we consider a success?
NGOs in many industrialised countries are calling for at least 40 per cent emission cuts by 2020, in line with the scientific evidence of the reductions needed to keep below a 2C rise in average global temperature.