Historic moment, historic gathering, historic cop out

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 19 Dec 2009

The ‘climate deal’ announced in Copenhagen today is a triumph of spin over substance, says international aid agency Oxfam.

The agreement – which was announced by the US, India, China and South Africa – has not been endorsed by the EU and many other countries.

The deal provides no confidence that catastrophic climate change will be averted or that poor countries will be given the money they need to adapt as temperatures rise.  Leaders have also put off agreeing a legally binding deal until the end of 2010.

Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said this was not a done deal – any agreement must be endorsed by all countries – and demanded that it be a floor, not a ceiling, on action.

“This agreement barely papers over the huge differences between countries which have plagued these talks for two years,” Mr Hewett said.

“The deal is a triumph of spin over substance. It recognises the need to keep warming below 2 degrees but does not commit to do so.  It kicks back the big decisions on emissions cuts and fudges the issue of climate cash.

“Millions of people around the world do not want to see their hopes for a fair, binding and ambitious deal die in Copenhagen.  Leaders need to get back ‘round the table in early 2010 and take the hard decisions they copped out of in Copenhagen.”

THE DEAL: US $100bn a year in climate cash for poor countries.

This is an aspirational goal, not a commitment – poor countries will have no confidence that they will receive the money they need to reduce their emissions and adapt to a changing climate.

US $100bn is only half the money needed. The shortfall could mean that health workers in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa will not get the $1.5bn they need each year to prevent climate induced deaths from malaria and diarrhea.

There are no assurances that the US $100bn will be additional to existing aid commitments.  This means aid for education and health care could be diverted to pay for flood defenses.

The US $100bn will not all be public money.  Unless climate cash comes from public sources, there are no guarantees that it will reach the right people, in the right places, at the right time.

SPIN: Global temperature rises will be kept below 2 degrees centigrade

REALITY: The absence of any emissions reductions targets means there is no guarantee that warming will be kept below 2 degrees centigrade.  Climate science is clear on the need for rich countries to cut emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.  Specific targets are essential.

Oxfam has spokespeople at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, and in Australia.

For interviews, contact Laurelle Keough on +61 409 960 100