A Climate Committment That’s Not A Treaty?

by Duncan Hollis

The Guardian has a leaked copy of what it’s calling “the Danish text” (see it here).  Apparently, this draft was developed by the Danes along with other developed countries including the United States and the United Kingdom in the hope that it might become the basis for whatever instrument emerges from Copenhagen.  As widely expected, the instrument is framed as a “political agreement” rather than a treaty.  Hostility to the instrument has not centered (so far), however, on its form, but rather (a) on its reliance on the World Bank in lieu of existing UN fora for overseeing the new regime as well as (b) its imposition of new commitments on emissions for developing countries that they were apparently not expecting. 

The Guardian reports that the leak of the Danish text has thrown the talks into disarray, and makes it sound like the talks are already in danger of failing just as they’ve begun.  My own sense is that we’re only at the beginning of a two week process, and I’d expect that there’s still time to get the train back on track toward some consensus on a political commitment.  That said, a leak like this will certainly require a fair bit of posturing on all sides before negotiators can get back to that goal.  Meanwhile, we’re hoping to have a number of guest bloggers weigh in in the days ahead on Copenhagen, so keep an eye here for future updates as they arise.

Hat Tip:  Foreign Policy’s Passport Blog


2 Responses

  1. The goal of the Copenhagen Conference is to reinforce UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol. Therefore, as far as i’m concerned, the content of the agreement will be more important than the form/name of it. If a binding legal outcome cannot be achieved at the moment, a political outcome sticking to the core principles (such as the Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility) will still be a way to alleviate the present tension.
    Reminded of the Montreal Protocol, I think the bright side is that the conference may pave the way for a binding treaty in the future.

  2. Obviously there’s been some political intrigue going on before the summit. The fact that they’re actually doing some preparation shows that they are genuinely preoccupied that some real decisions are about to be taken that will have political clout enough to take this out of the hands of those protecting vested interests and home votes. Unfortunately their hand’s been exposed before the betting has really started. It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks.

    Gloria Perez de Colosia, Abogado, Spanish Lawyer. Garrucha, Mojacar, Vera, Almeria.

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