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Updated: December 20, 2009 01:48 IST

Copenhagen Accord an ‘important beginning’

Priscilla Jebaraj
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A power plant is seen near Bella Center, the venue of the UN climate conference, as a man pushes a stroller, in Copenhagen on Saturday. The ‘Copenhagen Accord’, which was cobbled together at the end of the summit, doesn't fix a deadline for global emissions to peak.
AP A power plant is seen near Bella Center, the venue of the UN climate conference, as a man pushes a stroller, in Copenhagen on Saturday. The ‘Copenhagen Accord’, which was cobbled together at the end of the summit, doesn't fix a deadline for global emissions to peak.

The official name is the ‘Copenhagen Accord.’ Depending on whom you ask, it’s defined as anything from a “reference document” to the precursor of a “legally binding treaty.”

After a stormy overnight session, negotiators at the United Nations climate talks held here over the last two weeks cobbled together an agreement of sorts. However, questions are being raised about the effectiveness of the deal, which contains very few specific figures, commitments or timelines in the global fight against climate change.

“The Copenhagen Accord may not be everything everyone had hoped for, but this decision... is an important beginning,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon. He is among those who believe that it is operational immediately and must be transformed into a “legally binding treaty” within a year. On the other hand, a senior Indian negotiator said, it is viewed as “a reference document,” a political declaration which was not a decision under the U.N. framework.

The confusion over the nature of the agreement arises from the fact that it was not “adopted by consensus,” due to strong objections by some countries. After an acrimonious debate and an adjournment filled with frantic bargaining, the chairman announced that the conference would instead “take note” of the accord, and swiftly brought his gavel down. Countries that approve of the accord are free to add their names to it.

India will be one of those countries, since it championed the deal along with other BASIC countries and the U.S. With that deal sewed up, the big names — including Dr Singh and U.S. President Barack Obama — flew home, but negotiators then slogged it out in a marathon all-night session.The accord promises a mobilisation of $100 billion in annual funding for developing countries to meet the challenges of climate change from 2020 and also pledges about $30 billion by 2012. It sets a target limiting temperature increases to a maximum of two degrees celsius, but fails to specify the greenhouse gas emission cuts that nations need to commit themselves to in order to meet that goal.

There is no deadline for global emissions to peak, which pleases India, but left many scientists, activists and vulnerable countries disappointed. The Indian team is also happy about the focus on equity, but admitted that it had relaxed its position on monitoring and verification of domestic mitigation actions.

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