The COP 15 meeting in Copenhagen came to a close with no new comprehensive multilateral accord having been reached; however, a draft agreement was proposed by a limited number of states led by the US and China. The draft accord, referred to as the “Copenhagen Accord”, was not adopted by the Council of the Parties, which did however “take note” of its existence. Opposition to the accord came from developing countries which objected, inter alia, to the backroom style in which the agreement was reached, without their input.

Under the accord Annex I countries (the developed world) will commit to individual or joint emissions targets for 2020. Non-Annex I countries (the developing world), for their part, will have to implement mitigation actions.

Annex I countries will have to publish their emission targets in by January 2010 and communicate their progress toward achieving their goals every two years. Non-Annex I countries will have to publish their proposed mitigation actions by January 2010 and communicate their progress toward achieving their goals every 2 years as well. The actions of Non-Annex I countries will not be subject to external verification but they agree to use internationally agreed standards in their reporting. Mitigation actions by Non-Annex I countries seeking international support will however be subject to international measurement, reporting and verification in accordance with guidelines adopted by the COP. Such supported actions will be listed in the accord along with the technology, finance or other support granted, presumably by Annex I countries.

On reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, which looked liked it might be the object of an agreement during the COP 15 meetings, the accord states that there should be the immediate establishment of a mechanism for moving capital from developed countries to developing ones to incentivize the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and to enhance the removal of GHGs by forests. In the short term, USD 30 billion dollars will be provided between 2010 and 2012 for climate change mitigation and adaptation increasing to USD 100 billion by 2020. These projects will be supported through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund, which is to be established.

Technology development and transfer will take place on a country to country basis though a “Technology Mechanism”. This is in contrast to the existing Clean Development Mechanism, which is project based.

It is still too early to tell what the implications of this change might be for the carbon offset project industry that has grown up in the CDM. We suspect that in the short term at least, there will be substantial pressure put on national governments to maintain the project based international offset system.