The evolution of the climate change regime after the Copenhagen Accord
Climate change is a critical sustainable development issue with implications for the environment, economies and society as we know it. The problem of climate change is caused by some countries in parts of the world that has a direct effect on people and natural resources in other parts of the world. Climate change is the effect of increased production of Greenhouse gases (GHGs). Due to the vast complexity of the climate change regime the study does not attempt to be comprehensive or conclusive. The aim of the study is to critically evaluate and determine the purpose, enforceability, legal nature, shortcomings and strengths of the non-binding Copenhagen Accord and how the international climate change regime will evolve after the Copenhagen Accord. The study starts with a brief explanation of the international climate change regime and its development, including international environmental law principles, specifically the common but differentiated responsibility principle. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has the ultimate objective to achieve the stabilisation of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The Conference of the Parties (COPs) is the ultimate decision-making and supreme body of the UNFCCC and is authorised to make and implement decisions to promote the implementation of the UNFCCC, it further has the power to adopt new protocols under the UNFCCC and plays a substantial role in the development of new obligations by the parties to the convention. Various COPs, their respective adopted decisions and resolutions which played an important role in the development of the climate change regime are discussed. This includes COP 1 that lead to the Berlin Mandate; COP 3 and the Kyoto Protocol; COP 7 and the Marrakech Accords; COP 11 that marked the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol; COP 13 and the Bali Action Plan. COP 15 in Copenhagen was internationally expected and intended to be the breakthrough in addressing the post 2012 period. As is evident from the content of this study the result of COP 15 at Copenhagen means different challenges for different countries and the “bottom up” architecture of the accord could help encourage and reinforce national actions. An overview of the effect of the Copenhagen Accord on the climate change regime, with specific reference to COP 16 in Cancun, is then done. The “bottom up” architecture of the Copenhagen Accord was brought into the official UNFCCC process by the Cancun Agreements that were reached at COP 16. The study mostly comprised of a literature study, which reviewed the relevant international environmental law dealing with climate change, taking into account customary international law; international treaties and conventions; government documents, policies and reports; textbooks and academic journals as well as electronic material obtained from various internet sources.
- Law