COP15: World leaders enter the stage
16 December: The Copenhagen Summit gradually reaches its summit. Most Ministers from 193 countries are working hard, while security prepares for the invasion of 115 heads of state. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela took his time during the official opening event, and even Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe announced he will be here.
Leaders in, environmentalists out. Only a 1,000 of the 27,000 participants from non-governmental organisations will be allowed here tomorrow, and only 90 on Friday. An alternative conference is already being organised.
Two years of negotiations since Bali are now culminating in 24 hours. The agenda for the heads of state on Friday does not allow much room for real negotiations. They have two hours of ‘informal talks’ and a plenary session for signing the Copenhagen outcome. The luncheon in between might be very important to establish the last couple of compromises.
Meanwhile, the two other tracks – delegates and ministers – will work in parallel, most likely even on Saturday. Their heads of state will be on the plane home by then.
Confidence or no confidence?
Speculations on the outcome are flip-flopping from ‘yes’ to ‘no’ and vice versa, within hours. Even the non-governmental organisations like WWF, Greenpeace and CAN are speaking of a crisis, but meanwhile still believe a cure is within reach.
Many issues have been elaborated on, but the numbers (about targets or about financing) are not final. A final session to come to a concluding number is still not planned. With only 24 hours left to arrange such a meeting, a definite commitment by all 193 countries, including a target and financing, is still far away.
One thing is for sure: a complete agreement, with the most important details elaborated, is impossible. However, common sense in Copenhagen is that 115 leaders of Governments cannot afford to leave without a good result. So will the world’s leaders be able to overcome the lack of confidence between developed and developing countries that has dominated the last couple of weeks? The more they trust each other, the better the outcome of Copenhagen.
Concerning the targets, roughly speaking the large developed countries should reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases some 30% between 1990 and 2020 and developing countries should bend their emissions to a level that is 30% under business as usual. If the emissions after 2020 proceed downwards on the right path, the possibility that the temperature will stay below 2 degrees higher than now, is fifty per cent, science predicts.
However, an agreement will have to be much more precise and show the numbers on all individual countries. Also the control mechanisms (monitoring, reporting and verification) have to be agreed, not to mention the money going with the agreement.
Compared to the Kyoto situation 12 years ago, countries have more studies, models and numbers at their disposal. So every country knows quite well what their own emissions are, and what the boundaries for compromises are. In Kyoto, countries did not know exactly, and the Kyoto Protocol was still born. Now, some experts think a final agreement will need further investigations. But not everybody agrees.
A new chair
Connie Hedegaard, the newly appointed EU Commissioner of Climate and these days earning her fame as the COP15 President, has stepped back. Or better: Danish prime minister Rasmussen has taken over the high-segment chair, which would be more appropriate to the audience of his fellow-PMs and presidents. Hedegaard will still chair the delegate meetings, supporting Rasmussen.
In this diplomatic world, nobody will say it out loud, but some relief can be heard in the corridors. After the G77’s tough criticism and the clumsy Danish text I mentioned earlier in this blog, the change to a new overall President may be refreshing.
Cliffhanger: a new draft text
The very same Connie Hedegaard organised a real cliffhanger for this news report from Copenhagen. While I am meeting my deadline, everybody is waiting for a new "final" draft text, to glue together all texts into one document that will be the basis for the next 24 hours. The text should have been issued around three o’clock this afternoon. The postponed meeting of 16.30 still has not started. Is that a good or bad sign?
Posted 17/12/2009 by Rolf de Vos
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