Wednesday, 23 December 2009 10:15 AM

1.5 Degrees Rejected, Pacific Condemned as 25 Leaders Deliver Copehagen Accord

Saturday 19 December 2009, COPENHAGEN--Officials from a growing list of countries at the UN Climate Change Talks are aligning themselves to a deal offered after a 24 hour marathon session that started on Friday and stretched out into Saturday.

The deal was officially noted by the COP on Saturday morning some 12 hours after the United States announced the set up of a agreement on climate change. The Copenhagen Accord was nowhere near what Pacific countries were looking for, with even the deal's strongest backers admitting that it is a flawed document but the best available, given the situation. In fact the Accord, if it is taken as the COP15 outcome condemns some low lying Pacific Island countries to the worst effects of climate change especially rising sea levels. But for some members of the Alliance of Small Islands States, which Pacific countries are members of, it was the only way forward after two solid weeks of negotiations failed to reach a compromise on saving the planet. After hours of drama on the plenary floor AOSIS's president accepted the proposed deal despite the rejection of the accord by some of its members including Tuvalu.

"It looks like we've been offered 30 pieces of silver to betray our people," said Tuvalu's rep Ian Fry.

The accord puts the limit of global warming at under 2 degrees Celsius - a less stringent mark than AOSIS's and Pacific Island countries maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Also under threat -- the Kyoto Protocol -- as early understanding is that the Accord is based on voluntary reductions by developed countries. The accord had been put together by a select group of countries - brought together by COP's president - including Grenada on behalf of AOSIS members on Thursday night.

"We went in, AOSIS fought for everything we could come out with...as you could see we didn't come out with much," said Dessima Williams. Solomon Islands ambassador to the United Nations says the 2 degrees Celsius mark will be devastating for low lying Pacific nations such as Tuvalu, Kiribati and parts of Solomon Islands. He says according to science the 2 degrees mark would put some countries underwater. The accord was presented to delegates at 3am, and was initially received with much hostility by developing countries, stoked by the television appearance of US President Barak Obama to announce the sealing of a deal, despite delegates having to meet yet.

Venezuela was amongst the accord's harshest critics, calling the accord illegitimate.

But as the talks bore on emotions subsided and most accepted that the Accord as the way forward. "PNG supports this document even though it is flawed...we can not leave this place without something to carry them forward," said Papua New Guinea climate change envoy Kevin Conraud.

With the meeting convening at 3am and continuing until 7am - the lack of sleep and the frustration of days of negotiations affected delegates with Sudan's representative and chief negotiator of the G77 countries accusing developed countries of having murderous intent with
the 2 degrees Celsius limitation. His references to the holocaust proved to be the launching pad for developed countries to counter the stream of criticism against the accord.

The Accord had also split existing blocs with some African countries Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa heading in support of the document while Sudan opposed it. The meeting had to be interrupted a number of times for meeting officials dealing with changes in flight booking for delegates flying out on Saturday morning had to be changed to cater for the marathon session, as momentum picked up in support for the proposed Copenhagen accord. The members of the Least Developed Countries also gave their backing to the accord. Maldives, a country also threatened by rising sea levels was one of the big backers of the accord. "In the last two days I have met with 25 country leaders - I must say big emitters are refusing to reduce emissions...I am so sorry this was blatantly obstructed by big countries," said Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed who backed the accord despite it not meeting the below 1.5 degrees Celsius mark which the Maldives had campaigned for. Nasheed said the Accord was the best way forward.

-- Story by Evan Wasuka, ONE TV News, Solomon Islands

Related Link: Read more about COP15 on Climate Pasifika's blog

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