Malaysia must reject the Copenhagen Accord

The Consumers’ Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia urge the Government of Malaysia to reject the controversial Copenhagen Accord which was not adopted by Parties in the December 2009 climate talks.

The Copenhagen Accord was controversial as it was drafted in a non-transparent and undemocratic manner, and arose from an exclusive meeting of 26 political leaders, whereas the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has over 190 member states.

We deplore in particular the undemocratic and illegitimate practice of convening a small group of parties to draft text outside the formal negotiating process, leaving out a large number of countries, including Malaysia.

The Accord overshadowed the years of diligent effort by the working groups under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol (KP).

As the Accord was not adopted by the Conference of Parties in Copenhagen, but was only “taken-note” of, there has been a campaign to get countries to “associate” themselves with the Accord.

The Accord is not acceptable as it would radically and adversely change the balance of rights and obligations among the developed and developing countries in the UNFCCC.

The Accord replaces the KP model of mitigation (i.e. binding and adequate aggregate and individual national targets) with a system of voluntary and unilateral pledges by each developed country, with no review of the adequacy of the national targets or the implications of their aggregate level.

Developed countries who are supposed to show leadership in reducing emissions deeply are abandoning their Kyoto Protocol obligations by promoting the Accord. Pledges by developed countries only amount to a 11-19 % reduction of emissions when what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change demands is at least a 25-40% reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Many developing countries including Malaysia have called for at least a 40% reduction target by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

The Accord also places heavier mitigation obligations on developing countries than are in the Bali Action Plan or the Convention.

Only USD 100 billion has been agreed to be mobilized under the Accord to address climate change measures but this is a massive shortfall from what the UN estimates to be at least in the range of USD 500 to 600 billion.

Following the climate talks in Bonn in April last month, a new text for negotiations has been produced for the forthcoming negotiations in June. Many of the Accord’s positions are already reflected in the new text as options for Parties to negotiate, following the insistence of mainly developed countries.

By associating with the Accord now, Malaysia would be tying its own hands in the negotiating process, thus limiting its ability to take positions which are in its own national interest.

Malaysia has nothing to lose from not associating with the Accord but has everything to gain as it would have the flexibility to decide what is best for the country and its people in combating climate change.

Moreover, Malaysia would not be alone, as a large number of developing countries have also not supported the Accord.

The Accord does not bring any gains to the country, but actually undermines the existing obligations of developed countries and shifts the burden onto developing countries.

Malaysia should not succumb to pressure from developed countries but retain its independence in rejecting the Accord or at least in not associating with it.

If the Accord positions are accepted it would seriously undermine efforts to secure just and effective international cooperation on climate change.

Letter to the Editor, 21 May 2010