COP15: Still waiting for the (anti)climax
18 December, 17.30: The process of negotiations by delegates, ministers and heads of state will not end in a mature political treaty. At the time of writing this news report, the final official meeting – a signing session - should have started, but a final Copenhagen Declaration has not been produced yet. Many are preparing for a disappointment, others are still hoping.
Regarding targets, nothing more than the original pledges can be expected. According to the Climate Action Tracker, this means a 3.5 degrees temperature rise this century. As soon as the final text is issued (maybe tomorrow?), we will let you know. Meanwhile, here is an analysis of the main events since yesterday evening.
17 December, evening and night
During the day, China and India made some moves regarding the difficult issues of monitoring, reporting and verification of its voluntary emission reduction pledges. The rapidly growing, large emitters among the developing nations object to scrutiny by the richer countries, because they feel their sovereignty is not being respected. But they have no objections to a certain level of transparency for the progress regarding emissions.
During the evening, a number of about 20 to 25 Heads of State and Premiers negotiated a text. China and India were not there, so they accused the others of organising a process that is not transparent and does not include all parties.
18 December, morning
A new draft text has leaked. Three pages as an umbrella political piece, referring to the agreed items in the technical texts from the working groups that worked so hard this week. It still contains an [X] and a [Y] at crucial places, and the list of developed countries (and their commitments) is also missing. Reactions differ widely.
Obama arrives at the airport and within an hour he is in the building trying to mend minds, being part of a meeting with a limited number of Heads of State. Now the meeting that includes Brazil, South-Africa, China and India.
18 December, around noon
The key VIPs make their statement in an informal meeting that was delayed because of negotiations going on in smaller rooms. Ban Ki-Moon (UN), Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and Brazilian president Lula precede the primus-inter-pares Barack Obama. Lula shows his good intentions by offering a contribution to a fund for poorer countries, even before discussing this in his home country.
The long-awaited speech of Obama is not very encouraging. He mainly confirms the US commitments that were offered earlier (a contribution for the short-term fund ramping up to US$10 billion in 2012; mobilising US$100 bn by 2020; and at least 17% emissions reductions between 2005 and 2020, 80% by 2050.) He asks all sides to move. He also says in essence: a good agreement, or no agreement, but rather no postponement. “We could come back with the same stale arguments until climate change is irreversible.”
Remarkably enough, almost all Heads of State say that reducing emissions is important to help the economy. They will do it anyway. So what’s the fuss about, then?
18 December, afternoon
Informal negotiations continue, also during lunch. In a press conference the delegation of India accuses certain countries (Australia, Canada) of trying to exit from the legally binding targets within the Kyoto Protocol. This is far more important than what is happening around verification, says the delegation leader. India obviously does not want ‘verification’ to be a kind of ‘compliance’.
The last activist left
Leaving the media centre, I bumped into Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead, one of the world’s biggest pop bands. Yesterday he had an interview about climate change for www.stupid.tv, today he entered the building in the afternoon. With the NGOs, most colorful people already left two days ago. Embedded musician Yorke, dressed in red jeans, sneakers and a coat, contrasts with the thousands dressed in grey in the Bella Center. Having heard about the little progress at the high-level meeting, he plays getting angry and says: “Why doesn’t anybody say anything? Why doesn’t anybody set fire to this place? I’m gonna find me a lighter…”
Posted 22/12/2009 by Rolf de Vos
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