While President Obama's climate negotiators converge in official talks at the convention, Friends of the Earth U.S. president Erich Pica and staff members Nick Berning, Kate Horner, Karen Orenstein, Ian Illuminato and Elizabeth Bast are in the negotiating rooms and on the streets of Copenhagen pushing for a strong and just international agreement to stop global warming.
Understanding What Happened in Copenhagen
Our team of experts has put together several resources to help you understand what happened at the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen and the failure of the Copenhagen Accord, the result that emerged from it.
Click here for a one-page document explaining how the climate summit failed to produce a fair and effective outcome.
Click here for a detailed analysis of the Copenhagen conference that focuses on U.S. involvement.
Saturday, December 19: Conference Officially Closes, Fight for Climate Justice Continues
The Copenhagen conference officially closed today without an international climate agreement.
The conference ended without the adoption of the proposed non-binding "Copenhagen Accord" generated behind closed doors by a small group of countries and announced by President Obama. Instead, delegates merely voted to 'note' the Accord's existence, giving it no legal force whatsoever. The U.S. and other rich countries are now pressuring poor countries to sign onto the accord or risk losing access to billions of dollars in funds for climate solutions.
Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International said:
"Countries seeking a just and effective solution to climate change should not sign this illegitimate and distracting 'Copenhagen Accord.' They should instead ensure a rapid return to the formal UN process to achieve a fair, strong and legally binding agreement as soon as possible within the next year.
"Developing countries have shown real leadership in Copenhagen and must not give up the UNFCCC for the 'Copenhagen Accord.' "
Friends of the Earth U.S. President Erich Pica had this to say:
"Climate negotiations in Copenhagen have yielded a sham agreement with no real requirements for any countries. This is not a strong deal or a just one -- it isn’t even a real one. It's just repackaging old positions and pretending they're new. The actions it suggests for the rich countries that caused the climate crisis are extraordinarily inadequate. This is a disastrous outcome for people around the world who face increasingly dire impacts from a destabilizing climate."
Our Friends of the Earth policy team's "quick and dirty analysis" of a new secret rich country negotiating text leaked today is featured on the NY Times Green Inc. blog. The Guardian also has a quick breakdown of how the negotiating text has been changing from draft-to-draft today.
President Obama addressed the Copenhagen conference today, but failed to significantly raise the ambition level of U.S. commitments to tackle climate change. Our Friends of the Earth U.S. president Erich Pica responded to register our -- and the world's -- disappointment:
"This speech appears to be more of a face-saving exercise for President Obama than an attempt to unite countries around a truly planet-saving agreement.
"The United States came to these negotiations with a weak position, and now appears to be attempting to take the rest of the world down to our level. It simply must do better."
As President Obama took to the podium in Copenhagen to deliver his flop of a speech, Friends of the Earth joined 80 civil society groups from across 28 countries in calling on him to earn his Nobel Peace Prize. Click here to read the letter.
Day 11: Thursday, December 17
A UN report leaked today shows that the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions currently put on the table by countries in Copenhagen would fail to limit the average rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius over the next century, which representatives from rich countries have been claiming is their goal. As delegates and activists from African countries and small island states especially vulnerable to climate change have pointed out over the past two weeks, even a 2 degree C warming would cause serious loss of life and economic devastation in their communities.
The big shots are starting to arrive in Copenhagen as the negotiations get down to the final days. We're still working hard to reach a strong and just deal -- but will have to wait to see what kind of a deal, if any, leaders actually usher in. What's clear is that rich countries are to blame for deadlock in climate talks.
The U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, arrived today and announced a new proposal from the U.S. that countries jointly raise $100 billion a year in funding by 2020 for developing countries so they can deal with climate change impacts.
The proposal is too little -- and way too late -- to move the talks forward at this point. The details are fuzzy: it's unclear how much of these funds would be from public (as they should be) rather than private sources, there are strings attached in that funding would be contingent on emissions reductions by developing countries (an affront to the legal obligations rich countries already have to provide this funding), and there's no word on how much funding the U.S. specifically would commit. The $100 billion itself is still much too low to meet the demands of science and justice.
Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth U.S. said in response to Secretary Clinton's announcement:
“It's good to see the United States finally talking about putting longer term funding on the table to solve the climate crisis, but the proposal announced today looks like a shell game. The amount falls far short of what the United Nations says is needed. Inadequate funding will condemn the poorest to languish in poverty while the world suffers from climate chaos. In addition, loans and private investments must not substitute for public money, and it is unclear how much of this package is public."
Only a couple members of Friends of the Earth International are allowed inside the Bella Center, but the rest of our team is working tirelessly outside to remain involved in the negotiations. You can read Nick's piece from Open Left which further describes yesterday's events.
Democracy Now caught up with Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International as he was being kicked out of the climate conference center.
Members of Friends of the Earth groups from around the world arrived at the Bella Center this morning to take part as official observers in the climate negotiations taking place in Copenhagen -- only to be told that their badges were no longer valid, despite all of them having the proper accreditation and the required secondary badges.
Other civil society organizations have rallied in support of our team and Avaaz, whose representatives were also locked out of the talks. Climate Action Network (CAN) International, with over 500 member groups, sent a letter to Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, president of the climate conference, and Mr. Yvo de Boer, who heads up the UNFCCC, to urge that Friends of the Earth and Avaaz be reinstated and that the rights of civil society to participate in the climate conference be respected, in line with UN principles.
One of the key roles Friends of the Earth has played at the conference has been to advocate for climate justice and the interests of the poor countries that have done the least to cause the climate crisis but will feel some of its strongest impacts. UN's decision to exclude us will leave tremendously under-resourced negotiators from poor countries with even less support inside the Bella Center to fight for a fair agreement.
The photo to the right (credit: Friends of the Earth International) shows Friends of the Earth campaigners staging a sit-in at the Bella Center to protest the limitations put on their access. They're holding up the badges that prove they had all of the proper accreditation to enter.
Also, check out these articles in the Los Angeles Times and U.S. News & World Report where Erich and Nick help frame the discussion on the dynamics of developing and developed in Copenhagen and what is needed for an equitable agreement to be reached.
BACKGROUND: On Wednesday, December 16, Friends of the Earth delegates from across the world arrived at the Bella Center in Copenhagen to keep fighting for a strong and just climate deal -- only to be shut out without advance notice or explanation. Limiting access of civil society to UN climate talks hinders our ability to reach a strong and fair agreement because we play a crucial role in supporting developing country negotiators fighting for climate justice.
On Tuesday, our Friends of the Earth U.S. president, Erich Pica, personally delivered about 5,000 of your signatures with our petition calling on lead U.S. climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing to stop secret back-room dealing in Copenhagen and listen to the demands of developing countries. Our actions to expose rich countries' underhand negotiating tactics have helped strengthen the hand of the developing countries fighting for a strong and just agreement.
Our international petition to demand climate justice gained 36,142 signatures from across the globe and is being delivered to world leaders in Copenhagen during the second week of negotiations.
At a press conference on Tuesday, December 15, Naomi Klein announced biotech Giant Monsanto as the winner of the Angry Mermaid Award, with 37 percent of the vote. Monsanto got the nod for promoting its genetically modified (GM) crops as a solution to climate change and pushing for its crops to be used as biofuels. Ten thousand people voted for the Angry Mermaid Award, named after the iconic Copenhagen mermaid who is angry about corporate lobbying on climate change.