United Nations Climate Change Talks in Accra, Ghana, 21 – 27 August 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

From 21 to 27 August, governments gather in the Ghanaian capital Accra to continue critical negotiations about a new global climate treaty. The Bali roadmap, agreed at UN climate talks last December, mandates these negotiations to conclude at the UN conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. However, after too little progress at recent talks in Bonn in June and a stalemate between developed and developing countries at the G8 summit in July, the political process has suffered major delays and is far from where it should be at this stage. Accra marks an opportunity to gain ground on the road to Copenhagen and speed up negotiations on crucial building blocks of the new global treaty, such as emission reductions, mitigation mechanisms, finance flows or technology transfer. After the previous talks focused mainly on negotiation procedures and on wish lists of issues to be discussed, Accra provides a perfect stage for progressive players to move the negotiations forward by putting substantial proposals with concrete ideas for the new global treaty on the table.

Key Issues:
Accra can be a positive turning point in the climate negotiations, as more and more parties are lowering their guards and get ready to stop beating about the bush. “Before you can negotiate a contract you need to write a comprehensive and fully-fledged draft,” says Kim Carstensen, Director of the WWF Global Climate Initiative. “Presenting concrete ideas and submitting real substance will be the benchmark for credible leadership in Accra.”

At the G8 summit, the emerging economies took a very pro-active stance and made an offer which would break the deadlock at the negotiation table if the industrialized countries accepted it. “Rich nations have to cut 25-40% of their emissions by 2020 and 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels,” says Kathrin Gutmann, Policy Coordinator of the WWF Global Climate Initiative. “In turn emerging economies must commit to substantial deviations from business as usual emissions domestically, and to deep emission cuts globally.” Although these targets are not on the agenda in Accra, WWF supports the emerging economies in their progressive stance, expecting other governments to signal support for such an ambitious package.

The fact that the talks are held in Africa, the world’s poorest region which is highly vulnerable to climate change, has to be reflected in the negotiations. “Developing countries need an encouraging signal that industrialized nations will live up to the responsibility resulting from their historic emissions,” says Diane McFadzien, WWF Climate Policy Coordinator for Asia Pacific. “The EU is in the best position to earn the laurels for breaking the deadlock, but must overcome its recent climate fatigue to create fresh dynamics.”