Looking for an ambitious interim agreement at Copenhagen

In an interview with the Financial Times yesterday, the UN’s top climate change negotiator Yvo de Boer dampened expectations that a comprehensive climate change agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocols will be concluded by the Copenhagen summit in December. 

“A fully fledged new international treaty under the [UN Framework] Convention [on Climate Change] – I do not think that is going to happen,” Yvo de Boer, charged with bringing December’s negotiations to a successful conclusion, said in an interview with the Financial Times. “If you look at the limited amount of time remaining to Copenhagen, it’s clear.”

This has been apparent for a long time, but it is still newsworthy that de Boer is now ready to publicly acknowledge as such. Part of the problem is that no one really knows what the United States will bring to the table because there has been only limited movement on domestic legislation in the United States. 

Rather than expect a full-fledged agreement in December, people close to the negotiations are saying that the measure of success in Copenhagen should be the extent to which the interim agreement sets a clear path for the signing of a comprehensive agreement at a later date. 

A few weeks ago, I chatted with Patodia Namrata of the Pew Center on Climate Change who described what an ambitious interim agreement might look like: