Copenhagen – Day 11
Day 11 of the conference here in Copenhagen and early this morning it seemed that the 193 countries were as close to a deal as they had been on Day 1.
In one sense, when you think about it, the ambition of this conference is audacity itself.
It’s bringing together every country of every political hue and ideology, rich and power, small and large, secure and vulenerable and getting them to agree to a political template that will endure for a generation.
It’s amazing. Just three of the dozens of world leaders who spoke inside the Bella Centre today give you a sample of that diversity, which on the face ot it, seems insuperable. Hillary Clinton. The Iranian president Ahmadinejad. The Bolivian President Yves Morales.
This morning, it looked desperate. A row has been ongoing all week about the Kyoto Protocol. It covers only about a quarter of all emissions and binds only some developed countries. That’s essentially the EU and a few others. The US isn’t bound by it. Either are China, India or Brazil. The EU want it to be replaced by an agreement that covers everybody. But developing countries have been crying foul, saying it’s a case of the EU wantin gto backslide from (onerous) Kyoto Protocol commitments after 2012.
So earlier, this week, two documents were discussed, one on the Kyoto Protocol; the other covering issues and countries outside the Kyoto Protocl. The Danish presidency tried to bring both documents together under one unified document. It proved to be a disaster. African countries as well as the influential G77 plus China grouping of developing countires cried foul and after two days of to-ing and fro-ing it was finally withdrawn yesterday.
The deadlock continued into this morning. Then, there was the announcement that negotiations were back on track. The procedure would be a split into two ‘contact groups’, one looking at Kyoto, one looking at everything else. They commenced today. Minister have got involved. It’s likely to continue all night.
There were a couple of other big trends today. The US offer of a total of $100 billion per annum in financing for poorer countries by 2020 was a positive step forward, despite all the conditions attached. The row between the US and China (and India) over the transparency of their emissions was still a little fraught today but there were some comments that seemed to suggest progress. The EU was being put under all kinds of pressure to declare 30 per cent emissions, and not wait for everybody else to deliver.
Most of the leaders, including Brian Cowen, have arrived tonight. Barack Obama is arriving tomorrow. Will there be anything to sign? Those with long experience of climate change negotiations have said it’s amazing what can be pulled out of a hat at the last minute. It happened in Bali and in Kyoto and in Rio back in 1992.
It could slip into Saturday too, given the big gaps over the questions of financing and emissions reductions.
The next 24 hours will be as intriguing (if not as exciting) as the eponymous TV series starring Kiefer Sutherland!