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6 Key Messages: Conclusions from the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

Key Messages from the Congress

12 March 2009

Copenhagen, Denmark: Following a successful International Scientific Congress Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions attended by more than 2,500 delegates from nearly 80 countries, preliminary messages from the findings were delivered by the Congress’ Scientific Writing Team. The conclusions will be published into a full synthesis report June 2009. The conclusions were handed over to the Danish Prime Minister Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen today. The Danish Government will host the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2009 and will hand over the conclusions to the decision makers ahead of the Conference.

The six preliminary key messages are:

Key Message 1: Climatic Trends
Recent observations confirm that, given high rates of observed emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised. For many key parameters, the climate system is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived. These parameters include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.
Key Message 2: Social disruption
The research community is providing much more information to support discussions on ‘dangerous climate change’. Recent observations show that societies are highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change, with poor nations and communities particularly at risk. Temperature rises above 2oC will be very difficult for contemporary societies to cope with, and will increase the level of climate disruption through the rest of the century.
Key Message 3: Long-Term Strategy
Rapid, sustained, and effective mitigation based on coordinated global and regional action is required to avoid ‘dangerous climate change’ regardless of how it is defined. Weaker targets for 2020 increase the risk of crossing tipping points and make the task of meeting 2050 targets more difficult. Delay in initiating effective mitigation actions increases significantly the long-term social and economic costs of both adaptation and mitigation.
Key Message 4 – Equity Dimensions
Climate change is having, and will have, strongly differential effects on people within and between countries and regions, on this generation and future generations, and on human societies and the natural world. An effective, well-funded adaptation safety net is required for those people least capable of coping with climate change impacts, and a common but differentiated mitigation strategy is needed to protect the poor and most vulnerable.
Key Message 5: Inaction is Inexcusable
There is no excuse for inaction. We already have many tools and approaches (economic, technological, behavioural, management) to deal effectively with the climate change challenge. But they must be vigorously and widely implemented to achieve the societal transformation required to decarbonise economies. A wide range of benefits will flow from a concerted effort to alter our energy economy now, including sustainable energy job growth, reductions in the health and economic costs of climate change, and the restoration of ecosystems and revitalisation of ecosystem services.
Key Message 6: Meeting the Challenge
To achieve the societal transformation required to meet the climate change challenge, we must overcome a number of significant constraints and seize critical opportunities. These include reducing inertia in social and economic systems; building on a growing public desire for governments to act on climate change; removing implicit and explicit subsidies; reducing the influence of vested interests that increase emissions and reduce resilience; enabling the shifts from ineffective governance and weak institutions to innovative leadership in government, the private sector and civil society; and engaging society in the transition to norms and practices that foster sustainability.

Copenhagen Climate Conference. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s concluding remarks

Copenhagen, Denmark. March 12, 2009


End section of a statement by Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the closing of the Copenhagen Climate Convention.

“A global agreement in Copenhegen, is not just about tackling climate change. It will constitute a new era in multilateral relations. It will be a unique occasion to construct a global solution based on mutual responsibility to act and to assist. People demand action.

Goverment must realize that it is in their interest to act. Government will fall if they fail. Politics must not be in the way of necessary solutions. The world needs better goverment.

So in conclusion, let me repeat the key messages:

  • Urgency. We must come to an agreement here in Copenhagen in December.
  • Direction. We must set a long term target.
  • Action. We must commit to short term efforts.
  • Fairness. The rich must assist the poor.
  • Opportunity. Green growth is the future.
  • Governance. If we fail to act, we fall.

Thank you.”

Copenhagen: James Hansen fields a question, calls for phase out of coal use

Copenhagen, Denmark. March 11, 2009

James Hansen fields a question during one of the many parallel sessions during the Copenhagen climate conference, a meeting aimed at consolidating the new scientific findings that have emerged since the fourth IPCC report of 2007. He recommends phasing out coal use as part of a strategy to avoid the positive feedbacks which emerge as the climate warms.


James Hansen in Copenhagen

Copenhagen Climate Conference Begins, ‘Climate Change, Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions’

Copenhagen, Denmark. March 10, 2009

Today a three day conference on climate change begins here in a drizzly and cold, yet still ‘wonderful’ Copenhagen. This event is part of the build up to the pivotal November-December COP-15 meetings which will attempt to draft a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol which is due to expires in 2012.

A major goal of this conference is to present the new scientific evidence and findings since the IPCC report of 2007. Since much of that report was based on work from 2006, there are essentially three years of work to review and then present to the policy makers attending the November-December meetings.

The program of speakers and scientists, including Dr. James E. Hansen of NASA, covers a dense collection of scientific and relevant social topics ranging from ‘cryosphere, instability, seal level rise’, ‘vulnerability in carbon sinks’, to ‘sustainable urban deveolopment’. Promises to be quite an education.

Image: Copenhagen harbor Nyhavn where Hans Christian Anderson once lived.
Copenhagen harbor Nyhavn where Hans Christian Anderson once lived.

Brazil goes to war against logging : Nature News

‘Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) mounted a military-style crackdown on deforestation in the Amazon in January — just a month after the government proclaimed that deforestation rates had dropped 59% over the previous three years. The action was prompted by alarming new satellite data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in São José dos Campos, indicating that clear-cutting is once again on the rise.’

via Access : Brazil goes to war against logging : Nature News. (Requires login or payment)

Why 2007 I.P.C.C. Report Lacked ‘Embers’ – Dot Earth Blog – NYTimes.com

A glimpse into some of  the politics behind the science:

‘Several authors of the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the projected effects of global warming now say they regret not pushing harder to include an updated diagram of climate risks in the report. The diagram, known as “burning embers,” is an updated version of one that was a central feature of the panel’s preceding climate report in 2001. The main opposition to including the diagram in 2007, they say, came from officials representing the United States, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.’

via Why 2007 I.P.C.C. Report Lacked ‘Embers’ – Dot Earth Blog – NYTimes.com.

British, French nuclear subs collide in Atlantic

Yet another example of the environmental consequences of military deployments. Always reassuring to hear that standard refrain, ‘releasing no radioactivity’.

‘LONDON – Nuclear-armed submarines from Britain and France collided deep under the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month, causing damage to both vessels but releasing no radioactivity, a British official said Monday.’

via British, French nuclear subs collide in Atlantic.

Philippines – WB’s Carbon Finance: No Tilting at Windmills

‘In June 2008, NorthWind added five more turbines, raising the wind farm’s capacity to 33 MW, enabling the company to provide half the province’s power needs.

Mr. Jacobsen attributes NorthWind’s success to a combination of three factors: right timing (NorthWind started the project when wind turbines were cheaper), right financing, and support from the World Bank through its Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF), which enabled NorthWind to generate more resources through the sale of “carbon emission reduction credits” under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol.’

via Philippines – WB’s Carbon Finance: No Tilting at Windmills.