The countdown to Copenhagen is over and the time for excuses has run out. Next week, more than 100 heads of state will answer your call to come to Copenhagen, where they must take personal responsibility for the future of climate change.Adverts with heads of state placed all over Copenhagen International Airport by the global coalition, tcktcktck.org, and Greenpeace greet delegates as they arrive in Copenhagen. © Greenpeace / Christian Åslund
Government negotiators will spend the next 10 days laying the groundwork for the heads-of-state show, which begins next week. Their task is to reach a deal that is fair to all countries, ambitious in emissions cuts, and legally binding. All of the pieces are in place to make this happen; success or failure is down to the level of political will the heads of state bring to the table. It's now up to the leaders to decide if we get a fair deal.
As the negotiations start, we will all watch to see who will take the lead in the shaping of the new climate treaty. In recent weeks, many of the larger developing countries have put new commitments on the table, and both India and China have pledged to reduce the carbon intensity linked to their economic growth. Rich nations, however, are still shirking responsibility for their historical contribution to climate change or the greater resources they have available to combat it.
In particular, the US has offered a paltry 4 percent emissions cut based on 1990 levels by 2020, when the science calls for at least 40 percent by then. However, it's not all bad news, South Africa has emerged as a frontrunner in the 'COP15 conference star' stakes by announcing emissions reductions targets of 34% below business as usual over the next 10 years, and 42 percent by 2025 - a step up from their previous target. This directly challenges all industrialized countries to step it up and commit to the ambitious targets needed to slow climate change.
More than 10 million of you have called for our leaders to sign a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement. TckTckTck's petition was handed over to key figures at the climate talks today: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and COP 15 President and Danish Climate Minster Connie Hedegaard.
TckTckTck chair and Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said the size of the petition demonstrated the huge groundswell of support for world leaders to deal with climate change.
What does the success look like?
Here are the four critical points:
- Emissions from industrialised countries must be cut by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020;
- Financing from industrialised countries to the tune of $140 billion a year for developing countries to deal with climate impacts, act on climate change and stop deforestation;
- The end of tropical deforestation by 2020;
- And developing countries must reduce their projected emissions growth by 15-30% by 2020, again with support from industrialised countries.
The road to Copenhagen
The UN climate summit is the culmination of a two-year negotiating process that began in Bali. Since then, the talks have been repeatedly stalled by a complete lack of ambition by the US, first under President Bush and then by President Obama's inability to lead on the climate issue.
The crunch issues
The real key to progress in Copenhagen is resolution and agreement on the crunch issues -- those key elements that will put the world on a path to staying as far below a 3.6 degree Fahrenheit (2 degree Celsius) temperature as possible. That is what the science demands and what is required to ensure the survival of the world's most vulnerable countries and people and, ultimately, all of humanity.
Science says we must, technology says we can, it is time for politicians to say we will.