Preparation of the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change – Joint letter from Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic, and Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, to the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon¹

Berlin, Paris, 18 September 2009

Dear Secretary-General,

Less than one hundred days from now, the 192 Member States of the United Nations will take decisions on which rests the future of humanity and that of our planet. We thank you for taking the initiative of convening a summit on climate change in New York on 22 September. We clearly need to accelerate the international negotiations now. This summit must generate the political momentum needed to reach a global and ambitious agreement in Copenhagen. We must give a clear mandate to our negotiators to obtain an agreement that limits global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

The European Union has made commitments that are consistent with the demands of such an objective. We have given us a legislative framework through the adoption of the energy-climate package, and we are willing to go further in the context of an ambitious international agreement. The European Union is determined to set in motion major economic and social changes required for a low-carbon development.

However, these changes will only be meaningful if there exists, around the world, a genuine will to look beyond self-serving interests: it is in the collective interest of all countries to engage in low-carbon economic and social development.

The broad lines of the agreement to be adopted in Copenhagen are now being drawn. They must be clarified on 22 September with a determination to obtain a consensus in December on four key points:

- A global goal of limiting global temperature increase to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, which will require reducing global emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels;

- Binding and ambitious commitments by developed countries consistent with the goal they adopted in July in L’Aquila of reducing emissions by at least 80% by 2050: developed countries must commit to comparable efforts over the medium term (2020 and beyond) and define trajectories consistent with the long-term goal;

- An engagement in particular by emerging economies to reduce the growth of their emissions compared to business-as-usual and to peak in a timeframe compatible with science and based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. In this context, developing countries should undertake to establish low-carbon growth plans and to make them public before 2012. Developed countries should commit to assist them in drawing up and implementing these plans;

- More generally, we have to agree upon effective mechanisms to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, both financially and in the context of technology cooperation. It will be necessary to employ new mechanisms such as an enhanced international carbon market, as well domestic finance especially in economically more advanced developing countries.

Regarding public finance, all countries, with the exception of the poorest, must commit financially in accordance with their emission levels and their capacity to pay. In order to be able to act promptly and to benefit from the experience acquired in recent years, the international community should rely first and foremost on existing institutions, including the Global Environment Facility. With a view to financial support for developing countries the European Union is ready to provide its fair share.

We consider two other elements to be important to reach an effective and fair agreement:

- It would not be acceptable for the efforts of the most ambitious nations to be compromised by the carbon leakage that would result from absent or inadequate action by others. For this reason, it should be possible to implement appropriate adjustment measures, if any country should not participate adequately in, or not adhere to, the agreement;

- Moreover, a new institutional architecture will need to be set up to foster the development of international environmental law. Environmental governance must be overhauled. We must make use of the momentum provided by Copenhagen to make further progress towards the creation of a World Environmental Organization.

Mr Secretary-General, the meeting in New York must bring about a decisive step in the direction of a comprehensive and ambitious agreement in Copenhagen. With help from all our European Union partners, you can rely upon our determination to make the Summit of 22 September a success./.


¹ Official English text

Published on 25/09/2009

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