Why the world settled for mere declaration in Copenhagen

The issue of finance was always going to be a deciding factor to the success of the talks. But even with an agreed line of action that would limit temperature rises to less than 2OC and a pledge to deliver $30 billion of aid for developing nations over the next three years, also a promise by the United States (a major emitter of greenhouse gas) to help establish funding of $100 billion a year for developing countries, a consensus that would have made the two weeks of talks pass for an agreement, could not be reached.

What is on hand, therefore, is a declaration or what the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen has called an “accord”. But the understanding even though reached with key countries such as China and Brazil, cannot compel nations on cutting down dangerous emissions and mitigating the effects of global warming, thus sadly bringing to the fore the fears over verification that constituted a major point of disagreements between the developed countries and their developing counterparts throughout the talks.

Even before President Barack Obama arrived on the scene on Friday and laboured hard to help leap the summit over the frustrations regarding harmonising the report of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Co-operation Action (AWG-LCA) as well as the one on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP), provisions of the main inconclusive document of the status of the talks was leaked to The Guardian from the engine room of the COP15 pointing to a declaration mandating the two working groups to conclude final negotiations and given a framework that might be adopted in Cancun, Mexico, next year.

Major issues had remained those of mitigation and the burden-sharing between developed and developing countries and how to reach a sensible agreement on deeper reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming. So, with yesterday’s outcome, the actualisation of Nigeria’s call for a legally-binding instrument for combating the effects of climate change in the country may therefore have to wait a little longer. The country’s delegation had highlighted desertification, flooding and deforestation as some of the yet visible effects of climate change in the country and called for an international co-operation, especially from the richer economies and biggest polluters to stem the tide.

As it is now, the United States (U.S.) and China, which together account for some 40 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, are the nations that matter most in the UN climate debate. But with the Copenhagen summit ending the way it did, it would at best serve mainly to illuminate raging but profound disagreements over global climate policy.

Brazil’s President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, for instance, told delegates as the closing session was winding up: “We, the developing countries… when we think in money, we should not think that someone is paying us a favour… We should not think that someone is giving something that we are begging for, because the money that would be put on the table is the payment for greenhouse emissions released over two centuries by those countries that industrialised themselves first.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s over 200 delegates from the ministries, interdepartmental agencies, Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs), researchers and consultants have noted with some satisfaction the outcome of the summit as well as the concessions given to the African group.

The country’s top diplomats who are on top of climate change issues were drawn from strategic missions, including the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Dr. Martin Uhoimobhi and envoy to Germany, Ambassador Abdul-kadir Bin Rimdap. They were mobilised to take care of the technical side of things while the summit lasted.

Nigeria was one of the countries in the committee of 10 African states on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) appointed in July 2009 in Libya by the continental leaders to lead the process and Africa’s negotiations. Other countries in the committee include Algeria, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Uganda, and the Chairperson of the African Union, the Chairperson of the Commission, and the Chairperson of African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) as well as the Negotiators/Experts on Climate Change (NECC) from all member- states.

The group’s representative and Nigeria’s focal head and co-ordinator, Special Climate Change Unit, Dr. Victor Fodeke, said in one of the sessions: “The battle is not won yet. Negotiations would continue. For now, it is for all parties and us in Nigeria to work with the understanding that has been reached here in Copenhagen…”

Meanwhile, speaking at the COP 15 in Copenhagen on the concerns raised by a strategic state like Delta in terms of the effects of climate change, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan said that states must now become the focal point in the efforts to stop the damage and threats currently posed by climate change.

He said: “We are using climate change as an environmental issue to deal with our post -amnesty programme in Delta State because with climate change, the oil companies have polluted the air, the waters and soil. Now this pollution has been worsened by our own people with the damage to oil pipelines. So, with this kind of situation, our people can no longer fish or farm and so they can no longer feed themselves, the capacity to do this is no longer there and when you cannot feed yourself, you are hungry and when you are hungry, you get angry and when you are angry, you get violent. So, it is a vicious cycle.”

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