[Senate Prints 111-39]
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111th Congress  }                                           {   S. Prt.
  2d Session    }             COMMITTEE PRINT               {    111-39                                                                _______________________________________________________________________                                     
                    U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE, 

                          COPENHAGEN, DENMARK, 

                             DECEMBER 2009 


                                A REPORT

                                 TO THE


                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                     One Hundred Eleventh Congress

                             Second Session

                            JANUARY 15, 2010


                        U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 

54-452 PDF                      WASHINGTON : 2010 

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             JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts, Chairman        
CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, Connecticut     RICHARD G. LUGAR, Indiana
RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD, Wisconsin       BOB CORKER, Tennessee
BARBARA BOXER, California            JOHNNY ISAKSON, Georgia
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey          JAMES E. RISCH, Idaho
BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, Maryland         JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
ROBERT P. CASEY, Jr., Pennsylvania   JOHN BARRASSO, Wyoming
JIM WEBB, Virginia                   ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi
JEANNE SHAHEEN, New Hampshire        JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma
                  David McKean, Staff Director        
        Kenneth A. Myers, Jr., Republican Staff Director        


                            C O N T E N T S

Letter of Transmittal............................................     v

Background.......................................................     1

Formal Negotiations at the Conference............................     2

Copenhagen as Catalyst for Climate Commitments...................     3

The Copenhagen Accord............................................     3

Analysis of the Accord...........................................     4

Implications for the United States...............................     5

Further Observations on the Negotiation Process..................     7



                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL


                              United States Senate,
                            Committee on Foreign Relations,
                                  Washington, DC, January 15, 2010.
    Dear colleague: In December 2009, I directed two senior 
members of my Foreign Relations Committee staff, Mark Helmke 
and Minority Chief Counsel Michael Mattler, to observe the 15th 
meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework 
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen, Denmark. 
The Copenhagen conference was originally envisioned as the end 
point of a two-year negotiating process toward a new 
international agreement addressing climate change, and was 
attended by over 100 heads of state. Following the Conference 
they prepared the attached trip report.
    The Foreign Relations Committee role in overseeing 
international climate change negotiations is longstanding. 
Beginning in 2007, former Chairman Biden and I directed members 
of the majority and minority staffs of the committee to attend 
significant UNFCCC negotiations. Their role was to help inform 
the committee on the progress of these negotiations, and to 
help the committee address issues within its jurisdiction--
including relating to consideration of treaties and foreign 
assistance--that might emerge from the negotiations. This 
arrangement continued in Copenhagen with members of both the 
majority and the minority staff attending the conference.
    I look forward to continuing to work with you on these 
issues and welcome any comments you may have on this report.
                                          Richard G. Lugar,
                                           Ranking Minority Member.


                             DECEMBER 2009



    The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference was originally 
envisioned as the end point of a two-year negotiating process 
to address climate change in the period beyond 2012. (2012 is 
the end of the period in which parties to the Kyoto Protocol--
which do not include the United States--made commitments for 
actions to address climate change.) The parties to the U.N. 
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed in 2007 
to launch negotiations to address issues for the post-2012 
period including:

   Actions by developed and developing states to mitigate 
        climate change,

   Actions to help states adapt to the effects of climate 

   Actions to develop and deploy technology to help states 
        mitigate and adapt to climate change, and

   Actions to mobilize financial resources and investment to 
        support actions to mitigate and adapt to climate 

    The negotiating mandate called for an agreed outcome and 
the adoption of a decision addressing these issues at the 
Copenhagen Conference.
    Negotiators from states parties to the UNFCCC held a series 
of meetings during 2008 and 2009 designed to produce a legally 
binding treaty addressing these issues. These discussions made 
little progress in producing agreement on the most significant 
issues in the negotiation, including:

   What steps developed and developing countries would commit 
        to take to reduce their emissions of carbon, including 
        what targets they would adopt for medium- and long-term 
        emissions reductions;

   How much money (and from what sources) developed countries 
        would commit to providing developing countries to 
        assist them in mitigating and adapting to climate 

   What mechanisms would be used to allocate and oversee such 
        financial flows; and

   What mechanisms would be used to monitor and verify that 
        countries were implementing their obligations?

    On the eve of the Copenhagen Conference, the main 
negotiating document addressing these issues was more than 160 
pages long and reflected numerous competing proposals. In spite 
of the pressure created by the planned presence at the 
conference of over 100 heads of state, it was clear to most 
observers that there were too many unresolved issues to permit 
the conclusion of a comprehensive legally binding instrument at 
Copenhagen as had originally been envisioned. Focus instead 
turned to the possibility of concluding a more general 
political agreement addressing broad principles for responding 
to climate change, but leaving details of implementation to a 
legally binding agreement to be concluded in the future.

                 Formal Negotiations at the Conference

    The formal track of negotiations at the conference produced 
little progress even toward this scaled back goal of a general 
political agreement. Discussions were characterized by 
significant acrimony between the so-called G-77 group of 
developing countries (including China) and the Danish 
presidency of the Conference. While there were a number of 
underlying sources of these tensions, they manifested 
themselves at the conference in heated debate over two 
procedural issues.
    First, the G-77 took a firm line that the Kyoto Protocol 
should be preserved as the framework for post-2012 actions to 
address climate change. Many developed countries believed that 
the Kyoto Protocol was ill suited for this function because the 
United States is not (and is not likely to become) a party to 
it and because it contains significant obligations only for 
developed countries, but not for developing countries, 
including major emitters such as China and India. As an 
alternative, many developed countries preferred to pursue a new 
agreement delinked from the Kyoto structure. The G-77 opposed 
such efforts, in large part in order to preserve the structure 
in which developing countries have no mitigation obligations. 
Accordingly, they insisted that work toward extending the 
existing Kyoto Protocol by adding new post-2012 commitments for 
developed countries should be the principal focus of the 
Conference's efforts.
    Second, the G-77 resisted suggestions by the Danish 
presidency to delegate to small drafting committees the task of 
developing proposals to bridge the significant differences in 
the 160 page negotiating text. Because the unresolved issues in 
the text were large in number and highly detailed, it was 
difficult to make progress toward solving them in discussions 
that included all 192 countries present at the conference. The 
G-77, including China, however, argued that any such smaller 
group efforts would unfairly exclude countries and would be 
illegitimate, even if they were composed in representative 
fashion and if their proposals would remain subject to further 
discussion, amendment, and approval by the entire conference.
    Differences on these procedural issues were likely proxies 
for larger substantive disputes, including disputes about the 
relative responsibilities of developed and developing states 
for taking actions to mitigate climate change and on amounts of 
money developed states should provide developing states as part 
of such an agreement. But discussion of these procedural issues 
dominated the formal negotiating sessions of the conference. 
Hours were spent debating the form in which substantive 
discussions should take place, and comparatively little time 
was spent on substantive discussions themselves. Because of the 
limited time for substantive discussions and the G-77's 
insistence that they be conducted in formal sessions open to 
all parties, these sessions made little progress and mostly 
involved repetition of previously articulated positions. At the 
end of the conference, the formal negotiating sessions had made 
no significant progress toward addressing the major issues in 
the conference's mandate.

             Copenhagen as Catalyst for Climate Commitments

    While the formal track of negotiations made little progress 
toward a comprehensive international agreement, the conference 
did serve as a catalyst for a number of states to announce 
steps they intend to take to address climate change.
    In the case of the United States, the Obama administration 
announced on the eve of the conference that it was prepared to 
offer a target of a 17 percent reduction in U.S. emissions from 
2005 levels by 2020 as part of an overall climate agreement. It 
also endorsed the goal of mobilizing $10 billion per year by 
2012 to assist developing countries in addressing climate 
change needs, and said that the United States ``will pay its 
fair share'' of such a fund. At the conference itself, 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that that the 
United States was prepared to work with other countries toward 
a longer term goal of jointly mobilizing from a variety of 
public and private sources $100 billion per year by 2020 to 
assist developing countries in addressing their climate change 
    Other countries also made such pledges:

   China announced in advance of the conference that it would 
        reduce the carbon intensity of its economic output 
        (rather than the absolute volume of its emissions) by 
        40-45 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.

   India pledged to reduce its carbon intensity by 20-25 
        percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.

   The European Union announced that it would reduce its 
        emissions by between 20 and 30 percent from 1990 levels 
        by 2020, and provide $10.6 billion over the next three 
        years to finance climate change assistance for 
        developing countries.

    These and other similar pledges began to define the 
parameters of actions major actors were prepared to take to 
address climate change. In some cases these pledges were 
contingent on steps other actors were prepared to take in 
parallel or subject to other conditions. For example, the Obama 
administration said that its announced mitigation target 
applied ``in the context of an overall deal in Copenhagen that 
includes robust mitigation contributions from China and the 
other emerging economies.''

                         The Copenhagen Accord

    In the absence of progress through the conference's formal 
negotiating process, the final hours of the conference centered 
on discussions among heads of state from a handful of major 
countries, including both developed and developing countries. 
These discussions ultimately produced a document agreed among 
the United States, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa 
entitled ``Copenhagen Accord.'' The accord represents a 
statement of political intentions, but is not legally binding. 
Key elements of the accord included:

   A general agreement to take action to produce deep cuts in 
        global emissions with a view to holding the increase in 
        global temperature below 2 Celsius.

   An agreement that developed countries will submit and 
        implement quantified economy-wide emissions targets, 
        and that compliance with these targets will be 
        measured, reported and verified according to UNFCCC 
        guidelines. The accord calls for emissions targets to 
        be submitted to the UNFCCC by January 31, 2010.

   An agreement that developing countries will report to the 
        UNFCCC every two years on actions they have taken and 
        intend to take to mitigate climate change. These 
        reports will be subject to international consultations 
        under guidelines to be established by the UNFCCC. The 
        accord calls for initial submissions of intended steps 
        to mitigate climate change to be submitted to the 
        UNFCCC by January 31, 2010.

   A commitment by developed countries to provide new and 
        additional resources approaching $30 billion for the 
        period 2010-2012 to assist developing countries in 
        mitigating and adapting to climate change.

   A commitment by developed countries to a goal by 2020 of 
        mobilizing jointly $100 billion per year, from a 
        variety of public, private, bilateral, and multilateral 
        sources, to assist developing countries in mitigating 
        and adapting to climate change.

    While the accord was supported by the vast majority of 
countries, several developing countries, led by Sudan and 
Venezuela, objected to the Conference endorsing the accord, 
arguing that they had been excluded from the process of 
negotiating the text and that the accord was therefore 
illegitimate. As a result, formal conference action on the 
accord was limited to a decision to ``take note'' of the 
accord. In the absence of formal UNFCCC endorsement of the 
accord, the Obama administration is encouraging individual 
states to express their support for the accord through 
individual national statements or communications.

                         Analysis of the Accord

    The accord falls far short of the original objectives of 
the UNFCCC negotiating process. It addresses the key issues in 
the negotiating mandate--emissions reductions by developed and 
developing countries, climate change assistance for developing 
countries, and mechanisms for monitoring and verifying 
commitments--but only in the most general terms. In particular:

   The accord establishes a general goal of limiting the rise 
        in global temperature below 2 Celsius, but it does not 
        contain commitments regarding specific emissions 
        reductions to be made by individual states. (Specific 
        commitments are to be made by January 31, 2010.) The 
        accord does not address what steps should be taken in 
        the event that mitigation commitments made by 
        individual states prove insufficient to limit the 
        global temperature increase to 2 Celsius.

   While the accord establishes goals for aggregate levels of 
        assistance to developing countries from developed 
        countries, it is silent on the amount of money to be 
        contributed by individual states toward the medium and 
        long-term funding commitments included in the accord. 
        It is also silent on the precise sources of such 
        funding and the conditions for distributing it.

   While the accord establishes the important principle that 
        developing states will be responsible for reporting on 
        the climate mitigation actions they plan to take and 
        have taken, the details of the guidelines for these 
        reports and the process for international review of 
        them remain subject to further negotiation.

    Thus, rather than resolving the key questions in the 
negotiating mandate, the accord is largely limited to 
establishing broad parameters for future decisions on these 
    The accord is also vague about the future process for 
reaching such decisions. At its most specific, it calls for 
states to make submissions relating to mitigation actions by 
January 31, 2010. On other operational issues, including 
financing assistance for developing countries, and the process 
for reporting, monitoring, and verifying states' climate 
commitments, the accord makes only general reference to future 
discussions among, and decisions to be made by, the parties to 
the UNFCCC. The accord is silent on whether further efforts 
will be made to conclude a legally binding treaty on future 
climate change actions, or whether future efforts will be 
addressed through less formal means.

                   Implications for the United States

    The accord contains a number of elements that advance 
important U.S. negotiating objectives. It also creates 
significant expectations about future U.S. actions with respect 
to climate change at a time when important aspects of future 
U.S. climate policy remain uncertain.
1. Elements of Flexibility for the United States
    The accord preserves important flexibility for the United 
States with respect to U.S. actions to address climate change. 
While the accord provides for the United States to commit to 
implement an economy-wide emissions target for 2020, it does 
not prescribe what that target will be, nor the actions the 
United States will take to meet it. Accordingly, the United 
States retains discretion to decide both on its own target and 
on the policies it will adopt in an effort to meet the target. 
Similarly, while the accord identifies aggregate goals for 
assistance from developed countries to developing countries, it 
does not prescribe how much money each country will contribute 
toward such goals, or the mechanisms for marshalling such 
funds. As a result, the United States retains significant 
discretion to decide how and to what extent it will provide 
such assistance. Because the accord is not a legally binding 
agreement, there are no formal legal consequences should the 
United States fail to carry out even the general undertakings 
applicable to it under the accord.
2. Commitments for Developing Countries
    The accord also contains provisions aimed at expanding the 
role of developing countries, including major emitters such as 
China and India, in addressing climate change. Though such 
countries would not have the same obligations as developed 
states to commit to implementing economy-wide emissions 
targets, they would be required to report regularly on the 
actions they intend to take and have taken to address climate 
change. The reports will be subject to international review, an 
element China resisted during the negotiations. While the 
nature and scope of this review remains to be decided, in 
principle it should provide the United States the opportunity 
both to better understand the actions being taken and to 
identify areas where failure by developing countries to 
implement their commitments may have an adverse effect on U.S. 
interests or economic competitiveness.
3. Raised Expectations for Future U.S. Action
    The accord also raises significant expectations for U.S. 
action on climate change in areas that remain under intense 
debate within the Congress. It is unclear whether future 
Congressional action on climate change issues will satisfy 
these expectations.
    First, the accord calls for the United States to submit by 
January 31, 2010 an economy-wide emissions target for 2020. The 
Obama administration has indicated that it will pledge under 
the accord that the United States will reduce its emissions by 
17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. The administration has 
indicated that this position is based, in part, on its 
assumptions about Congress's willingness to pass climate change 
legislation mandating such reductions, and is informed by 
relevant provisions of the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the 
House in 2009 and the Boxer-Kerry bill that passed the Senate 
Committee on Environment and Public Works in 2009.
    Similarly, the accord establishes goals for financial 
assistance to developing countries toward which the United 
States will be expected to contribute. The size of these 
goals--$30 billion for the period 2010-2012 and $100 billion 
per year by 2020--suggests that the expected U.S. contributions 
would far exceed current U.S. funding levels. The FY2010 budget 
contains around $1.2 billion in climate change related 
assistance. Based on past practice, the United States may be 
expected to contribute as much as $3 billion per year between 
2010 and 2012, and as much as $30 billion per year by 2020. In 
supporting the aggregate funding goals contained in the accord, 
the administration appears to be assuming both that Congress 
will support increased U.S. Government foreign assistance for 
climate change related goals, and that carbon markets created 
by passage of a cap and trade bill will help marshal 
significant private sector resources for such assistance.
    The uncertainty about the prospects for Congressional 
passage of climate change legislation creates similar 
uncertainty about whether the United States will fulfill the 
expectations the accord creates on these issues. Congress may 
ultimately prove unwilling to endorse emissions targets as 
ambitious as those the Obama administration will pledge, and 
indeed may be unwilling to adopt any specific economy-wide 
emissions reduction target for 2020 regardless of its level. 
Similarly, Congress may be unwilling to support significantly 
increased foreign assistance for climate change in the current 
budget constrained environment, and may not opt for a cap and 
trade system that would facilitate the creation of large 
private carbon markets. While the accord's provisions may be 
expected to inform Congressional debate on climate change 
policy, they will not be the only factors members will consider 
in developing climate change legislation, and other factors 
could lead to Congress to pursue different policies than those 
envisioned by the accord.
    In the event that Congress does not pass legislation 
consistent with the expectations for U.S. actions created by 
the accord and the Obama administration's statements, the 
United States may have a more difficult time urging other 
countries, in particular China and India, to follow through on 
their commitments, and overall global efforts to address 
climate change may be less effective. The United States would 
also risk diplomatic criticism from European countries and 
those particularly vulnerable to climate change who are leading 
advocates for more robust actions.

            Further Observations on the Negotiation Process

    In addition to these issues specific to the outcome at 
Copenhagen, several other developments at the Conference may be 
of interest to the Foreign Relations Committee and to the 
Senate more generally:

   China's increased assertiveness: China played a more 
        assertive and visible role at the Copenhagen conference 
        than it traditionally does in similar multilateral 
        fora. China aggressively defended its position that 
        steps to address climate change should not come at the 
        expense of its development objectives for its economy. 
        It also made a number of statements aligning itself 
        with G-77 critiques of the negotiating process. This 
        could reflect an increased willingness on China's part 
        to play an active leadership role in international 
        institutions generally, or could simply suggest that 
        the Chinese attached particular significance to the 
        shape of a future climate change regime.

   Leading role played by emerging economies: The final deal 
        at Copenhagen was agreed among the United States, 
        China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. The engagement 
        of these major emerging economies, and their 
        willingness to negotiate based on their own interests, 
        rather than on behalf of the developing world as a 
        whole, was critical to the ability to reach a final 
        deal. The significant role played by these countries, 
        and the less central role played by the European Union, 
        also may suggest and broader shift in power and 
        influence in the international system. Such a shift is 
        consistent with the emergence of the G-20, which 
        encompasses emerging economies, and the corresponding 
        displacement of the narrower G-8 as a forum for 
        coordinating action on major economic issues.

   Positive reactions to U.S. engagement: The United States 
        was largely seen as playing a constructive role at the 
        conference, both in making concrete commitments for 
        U.S. actions on climate change, and in trying to broker 
        differences among countries to produce an agreement. 
        The United States shouldered little if any of the blame 
        for the conference's failure to produce more 
        substantial results. This contrasts with the frequent 
        perception in the post-Kyoto era of the United States 
        as a principal obstacle on climate change, and thus 
        Copenhagen may be seen as a diplomatic victory for the 
        United States. Some of these benefits could prove short 
        lived if future U.S. action on climate change does not 
        fulfill expectations raised by the U.S. positions 
        announced in connection with Copenhagen.

   Questions about the future of the UNFCCC process:  The 
        inability of the UNFCCC process to deliver more 
        substantial success toward meeting its negotiating 
        mandate raises questions as to its future viability as 
        the principal forum for international climate efforts. 
        Given the difficulty of reaching agreement among 192 
        countries in an increasingly polarized UNFCCC forum, 
        countries may look to other options for coordinating 
        international efforts on climate change. These could 
        include less formal climate specific institutions like 
        the Major Economies Forum, or broader existing 
        institutions like the G-20.

   Developing world disaffection: The G-77's positions placed 
        great emphasis on procedural issues and on the need for 
        all states to participate at every stage of the 
        negotiation in order for it to be legitimate. The 
        resonance of these issues among developing countries 
        suggests a broader dissatisfaction with their role in 
        international institutions more generally. If these 
        arguments continue to characterize G-77 positions in 
        multilateral bodies, they could make it more difficult 
        for such bodies to work effectively and reach practical