Copenhagen Accord: 'A Significant Step Forward,' UN Says

United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon focused on the positive outcomes of the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-15) meeting that ended Dec. 18.

The collected decisions of the parties fulfill in large part the benchmarks for success laid down in a September meeting at United Nations' Headquarters.

Among the decisions of the conference, the Copenhagen Accord marks a significant step forward in negotiations for the first truly global agreement that can limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support adaptation for the most vulnerable, and help to establish a new era of environmentally sustainable growth.

Through the Accord, countries agreed to work toward a common, long-term goal to limit global temperature rise to below 2° Celsius. Developed countries have committed to establish and implement targets for greenhouse gas emissions, and a number of developing countries, including major emerging economies, have agreed to implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions and communicate their efforts every two years. They also agreed to review their commitments in 2015 to account for new scientific evidence.

Countries also agreed on the importance of acting to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and also agreed to provide comprehensive support to the most vulnerable to cope with climate change. To support these priorities, countries pledged up to $30 billion a year between 2010 and 2012, to be disbursed through a Copenhagen Green Climate Fund. Countries also backed the goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 for developing countries.

The Secretary-General reported to the UN General Assembly on Dec. 21, that "Among my priorities has been to increase the engagement of heads of state and government in climate change negotiations. In 2007, the High-level Event on Climate Change attracted 80 leaders. The September 2009 Summit on Climate Change at United Nations Headquarters was attended by more than 100. Nearly 130 leaders came to Copenhagen. Without their engagement in the process, we would not have achieved a deal," he added.

"Going forward, we have four tasks," Ban Ki-moon told the assembly.

"First, I urge all governments to formally sign on to the Copenhagen Accord by registering their support through the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change].

"Second, we need to convert the commitments enshrined in the Copenhagen Accord into a legally binding climate change treaty as soon as possible in 2010.

"Third, we must ensure that the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund becomes fully operational as soon as possible. In this context, I will engage the UN system to immediately start to deliver results to people in need and support countries in their mitigation and adaptation efforts.

"Fourth, I will urge all to implement their commitments as soon as possible, while the legally binding agreement is being developed," he concluded.

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