COP 15 – Copenhagen 2009


The international climate change talks are set to start in Copenhagen in December, and Earth's future is at stake. It's time for us to do everything we can to ensure that Canada takes a progressive stance at these negotiations, and that the world community emerges from Copenhagen with a just, binding, science-based climate treaty.

Ian Thomson, KAIROS' Ecological Justice through Corporate Accountability Program Coordinator will be going to Copenhagen where he will meet 8 of KAIROS' global partners. We'll follow their progress as they report their experiences and insights from Copenhagen.

What's The Big Deal About Copenhagen?

This December, the 192 countries that are signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are gathering in Copenhagen, Denmark to negotiate a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. The stakes couldn't be higher.

The world is on a trajectory for a social and ecological catastrophe if humans do not cut back drastically on the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) that we emit into the atmosphere. Already the effects of climate change are being felt most dramatically by those who are least responsible for the crisis – those people living in developing countries and arctic regions.

Science tells us that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere must be stabilized at 350 parts per million (ppm) to achieve a sustainable future. Carbon dioxide levels are already at 387ppm and rising, so we must start the transition to a low-carbon future now! We owe it to those who are suffering from the impacts of climate change today, as well as to future generations. Countries gathering in Copenhagen must be given a strong message to reach a just and equitable post-2012 agreement.

What Constitutes A Just And Equitable Agreement?

Industrialized countries of the global North, like Canada, produce the vast majority of greenhouse gases. This has led to climate change and its devastating consequences. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the global North to make substantial commitments in Copenhagen that will ensure their transition to a low-carbon economy. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of over 2,000 scientists who are experts on climate change, has said that industrialized countries must commit to at least 25-40% reductions below 1990 GHG emission levels by 2020.

It is also incumbent on countries like Canada to agree to assist countries in the global South to develop sustainable economies with direct funding and easy access to renewable technologies. Moreover, both the physical impacts of climate change, as well as the mechanisms being discussed for mitigation and adaptation, directly affect the lives and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples around the world. Therefore, KAIROS maintains that any agreement reached in Copenhagen must recognize and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

What Should Canadians Be Looking For In Copenhagen?

KAIROS recently took part in a national petition campaign called KyotoPlus. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians signed petitions demanding that:

1. Canada must set a national target to cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 25 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.

2. Canada must implement an effective national plan to reach this target and help developing countries to reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change.

3. Canada must adopt a bold, strengthened second phase of the Kyoto Protocol at the pivotal United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 2009.

In Copenhagen, KAIROS believes that the official Canadian delegation, representing our federal government and the Canadian people, should:

• Be ready to accept our historical responsibility for climate change and commit to substantial domestic GHG reductions in the range of science-based targets of 25-40% below 1990 levels as well as encourage other industrialized countries (known as Annex 1 countries) to do the same.

• Come to Copenhagen prepared to make a credible contribution to a global UN-managed fund on climate adaptation that is also over and above our Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments.

• Abandon its insistence on market-based solutions to adaptation funding, such as raising money from sales or auctions of emission permits and encouraging Northern companies to invest in offset projects in the South. For KAIROS' Southern Partners, relying on the carbon market comprises a "false solution" to climate change. This only removes the responsibility to reduce emissions at home and transfers it to the South.

• Negotiate the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol in good faith.

• Support recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in agreements reached in Copenhagen.