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UN: Flexible Deadline On Copenhagen Accord

January 21, 2010

Yvo de Boer, head of the UN climate convention, said nations signing up to the accord reached at last month’s summit would not have to do so by the deadline of January 31, BBC News reported.

Originally, the “Copenhagen Accord” asked countries to send figures by the end of the month on how much they will curb emissions, but uncertainty over who is going to sign up has led the climate convention head to call the deadline “soft”.

De Boer said the Copenhagen summit had not delivered the “agreement the world needs” to address climate change. However, many campaign groups who would like to see a firm timetable for further talks and political moves pursued through the year.

Many “green” campaigners are also concerned about the election of Republican Scott Brown to succeed Democrat Edward Kennedy as Massachusetts Senator.

Many fear Brown’s election will delay, weaken or derail the progress through the Senate of the Boxer-Kerry bill on limiting carbon emissions, and could induce wavering supporters of the legislation to jump ship.

North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, a Democrat opposed to the draft bill, said earlier in the week he predicted that the Senate would not do a climate change bill this year, but added he thought they would do an energy bill.

Brown has spoken against measures to cap U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and one Greenpeace campaigner described his election as “definitely bad news”.

But it did not necessarily signal major problems ahead for the legislation, according to Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Meyer told BBC News it was already clear that they would need some Republicans to support the bill, because some Democrats have said they wouldn’t support cap-and-trade anyway.

It seems likely that the U.S. will send in its commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the UN climate convention secretariat by the end of the month, despite any uncertainty over domestic legislation.

The BASIC group of Brazil, China, India and South Africa are due to consider their response this upcoming weekend. As developing countries, the four will not commit to emission cuts but are supposed, under the accord, to detail what measures they will take to curb emissions growth.

Some experts felt that despite playing a leading role in writing the accord, they might decide not to endorse it. But other sources now predict that all four will send in their plans, though they might not be as ambitious as the intentions they revealed before Copenhagen.

Despite falling short of the “minimum ambition” the bloc was looking for in Copenhagen, the EU has also indicated it will submit figures and support the accord.

There are still many other countries that have doubts about offering any endorsement of what they regard as a fundamentally flawed document.

Several countries including Bolivia, Cuba and Tuvalu indicated they would not support the draft at the end of the Copenhagen summit.

De Boer warned that the window of opportunity they have to come to grips with this issue is closing faster than it was before, and he described the accord as a “political letter of intent”.

De Boer also said policymakers were now in a “cooling-off period” before beginning discussions on what they might want from this year’s UN climate summit in Mexico in late 2010.

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