Next week, up to 20,000 people will descend on Copenhagen for the COP15 climate change conference, which aims to negotiate a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. Aside from the thousands of members comprising the 192 national delegations, there will be thousands more lobbyists from numerous industry lobby groups.
One of the most vexing questions to be considered at COP15 is the extent of greenhouse gas emission cuts proposed by the Annex I industrialized countries. Many governments, scientists and non-governmental groups have argued that keeping carbon dioxide concentrations to 450 parts per million should result in temperature rises being kept below 2 degrees centigrade. More recently, a growing group of countries has been arguing for a carbon dioxide target of 350 parts per million, to keep temperature increases below 1.5 degrees. (The pre-industrial level of carbon dioxide was approximately 280 parts per million, and the current level is 384 parts per million).
A related topic under discussion will be which base year to adopt. The Kyoto Protocol adopted 1990 as the base year, but many countries, after years of major emissions growth, want to reset the base year.
Other key issues which will be under discussion at COP15 will include:
* whether the agreement will be expanded to include greenhouse gases that are currently excluded from the Kyoto Protocol; (see Greenhouse gases omitted from the Kyoto Protocol);
* whether a new agreement will be expanded to include greenhouse gas emissions from the international maritime industry and greenhouse gas emissions from the international aviation industry, both of which are currently omitted from the Kyoto Protocol;
* whether the rules governing the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) will be tightened to ensure the environmental integrity and avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions, or whether they will be relaxed;
* whether the current exclusion of nuclear power from the CDM will be maintained or overturned. See Clean Development Mechanism and Nuclear Power;
* whether the CDM will include the as-yet unproven Carbon Capture and Storage technology now being promoted as a way of allowing coal-fired power stations to continue operating and new ones to be built. See Clean Development Mechanism and Carbon Capture and Storage; and
* whether the agreement will include measures to curb the rate of deforestation, especially of tropical rainforests in developing countries. See Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.
There are many other issues under discussion and numerous lobby groups trying to shape the outcome of the negotiations. Please feel free to update and expand any of the almost 2,000 articles in the SourceWatch Climate change collection.
There are also issues that won't be under discussion in the Copenhagen negotiations, such as curtailing the use of coal. However, the Coal Issues portal, developed with CoalSwarm, includes extensive profiles on major coal producing and consuming countries, proposed coal-fired power stations, and many of the main energy and coal mining companies.
Bob Burton is the Managing Editor of SourceWatch.
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