Interpretation of finance provisions in Copenhagen Accord

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Date produced: 13/01/2010

Is it possible to interpret paragraph 8 of the Copenhagen Accord as restricting the use of the committed $100 billion annually to mitigation only or is it open to interpretation?

Paragraph 8 is drafted in a way that is both ambiguous and indefinite. As such, it is difficult to reach a definitive view on meaning / intent. We will have to wait until the Report of COP15 has been produced by the secretariat and until individual parties make their pledges as to finance (short and long term) to see if either the secretariat or the parties have interpreted the finance provisions in a certain way.

The relevant part of paragraph 8 of the Copenhagen Accord states:

“In the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, developed countries set a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. […]. New multilateral funding for adaptation will be delivered through effective and efficient fund arrangements, with a governance structure providing for equal representation of developed and developing countries.” 

On first reading, it would appear that the $100bn, which is to be mobilised in the context of (i.e. likely to be conditional on) meaningful mitigation actions (by developing countries) and transparency on implementation (presumably of the mitigation actions), is designated specifically for mitigation purposes. This interpretation is given some support by the separate statement saying that “[n]ew multilateral funding for adaptation will be delivered…”, which suggests further funding for finance will be delivered from multilateral sources.

However, there is an alternative interpretation: that the $100bn is for both mitigation actions and adaptation, with funding for both being conditional on “meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation”.

This interpretation is given support by the language in the paragraph that the purpose of the money is “to address the needs of developing countries”. “The needs of developing countries” could easily be interpreted as encompassing both mitigation actions and adaptation. In addition, the fact that the scale of “multilateral funding for adaptation” is not specified (whereas, on the first interpretation, the scale of mitigation finance is) could lend weight to the interpretation that the $100bn is for both mitigation and adaptation. Finally, in relation to the $100bn goal, Hilary Clinton (on 17 December 2009) stated that the money “will include a significant focus on forestry and adaptation”.[1]

Where two alternative interpretations are available, it is necessary to determine the intention of the parties that agreed to that provision to try to find the intended meaning. As such we will need to see to Report of COP15 when it is finalised to see whether any statements have been made by the parties associating themselves with the Accord in relation to the intended uses of the $100bn.


[1] http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2009a/12/133734.htm