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What will come out of Copenhagen?

According to Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, it will be:

“…a list of targets from the industrialised countries, a list of commitments from the developing countries, and a list of financial contributions”.

In an interview with Handelsblad, a dutch newspaper, he says that:

“Yes, there are still too many texts on the table. There is not enough time left to turn all that into a treaty. But Copenhagen is not all or nothing. I still believe we will reach a strong agreement in Copenhagen. I still believe we will have targets from the industrialised countries, transparency from the developing countries and clear rules about how to finance it all.”

His comments about the CDM and the European Emissions Trading System are interesting, if predictable. He saves the best bit until last:

“”I believe Obama will come up with a figure. And if he’s smart it will not be higher than what is currently being discussed in the Senate. Otherwise you will get the same stand-off between the government and the parliament that proved fatal for Kyoto. I got a call just last week from [Democratic] senator John Kerry. He said he is sticking to the 20 percent reduction in the legislation currently being debated. So if Obama goes for that 20 percent he has political support. If he goes for more he will be on his own.””

Something is clearly better than nothing. Is it enough to avoid a two degree temperature rise? If the science is right, probably not. But we might just avoid four degrees, after which it all gets very messy indeed. One hopes so.

For anyone interested in some of the technology that might help business do their bit, check out this report we published last year called “Green technology that works“. You have to fill in a form to get it, but it’s worth it.

And for further reading and a summary of some of the science up until March 2009, here’s a link to my lecture on the topic of business and climate change, given to my MSC class at Birkbeck College, University of London, earlier this year.

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