Skip to main content

Climate Change (Copenhagen Talks)

Volume 504: debated on Thursday 28 January 2010

The Petition of residents of the constituency of Tiverton and Honiton in Devon and others, regarding the Climate Change Talks in Copenhagen in December 2009,

Declares that the following should result from the Copenhagen Talks: all countries should agree to take urgent action to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere to 350 parts per milion; developed countries should take the lead, given our major responsibility for past emissions; and developed countries should give financial help to the developing world to help them adapt to climate change and invest in renewable energies.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to do all it can at Copenhagen to achieve these goals.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Angela Browning, Official Report, 9 December 2009; Vol. 502, c. 934.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change:

At the Copenhagen Conference in December 2009, representatives of 49 countries reached agreement on the Copenhagen Accord. Under the Accord, countries agreed to work to limit the increase in global temperatures to below 2°C. Climate models show that above 2°C the risks of damaging impacts and associated costs rise sharply, as food production declines, water stress increases markedly, sea level rises and species loss accelerates. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are already at 320ppm. If we wanted to limit levels to 350ppm all countries would need to stop emitting immediately. This would severely constrain developing country growth. Limiting emissions levels to 450ppm is an ambitious, yet realistic goal which is still consistent with the 2 degree pathway.

Under the Accord developing, as well as developed countries have agreed for the first time to make specific commitments to tackling emissions, to be lodged in an appendix to the agreement by 31 January 2010. The Accord includes significant commitments on climate finance to help developing countries tackle and adapt to climate change. Developed countries have agreed to provide fast start finance approaching $30 billion for the period 2010 to 2012. This will be allocated in a balanced fashion between adaptation and mitigation, with adaptation funding prioritised for the most vulnerable developing countries such as the least developed countries, small island developing states and Africa. It will include up to £1.5 billion from the UK. In the longer term the Accord supports the goal of $100 billion a year of public and private finance for developing countries by 2020.

The Accord highlights the challenge faced by all countries in adapting to climate change, and agrees that developed countries will provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity building to support the implementation of adaptation action in developing countries. A Technology Mechanism will be established to accelerate technology development and transfer in support of action on mitigation and adaptation. The Accord also calls for the establishment of a Copenhagen Green Climate Fund, which will support projects, programme, policies and other activities in developing countries related to mitigation (including REDD-plus), adaptation, capacity building, technology development and transfer.

These are important steps forward but we know the world needs to go further. We must ensure that countries deliver on their commitments to provide immediate fast start financing for developing countries. The UK Government are committed to providing early financing to support the poorest and most vulnerable countries tackle climate change.. We are working with other developed and developing countries to ensure they put forward the most ambitious targets and mitigation actions possible for inclusion in the Accord at the end of January. Lord Stern’s analysis has shown that if countries opt for the most ambitious emissions reductions in the ranges that they have put forward, we will be within striking distance of a 2°C pathway, including peaking of global emissions by 2020. Copenhagen signals the start of a truly global effort to tackle climate change, but also a warning that we must keep up momentum if we are to tackle the scale and urgency of the problem.