• -
  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 18, 2009 @ 10:31 pm

    Copenhagen: The end is near… or is that nigh?

    Harry McGee

    It looks like a deal has been made. It’s just after 10pm now Copenhagen time and it’s emerged that the 28 most powerful nations – known as the constellation group – have forged a deal, aimed at curbing global temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius.

    The details are still hazy. It’s a “meaningful agreement” on climate change, setting a target of 2 degrees Celsius,  but not sufficient to curb global warming, a senior US offical has said.
    According to officals, developed and developing nations have agreed to a list of national
    actions and commitments.
    Agreement has also been reached on a finance mechanism. A mitigation target of 2
    degrees Celsius has already been agreed.
    According to the official, countries have agreed to give information on their emissons through ‘national communications’ with possiblity of international consultations. This is a reference to the mechanism which has been used to address China’s
    objections to verification demands from the United States.
    The offical accepted that no country is entirely satisfied with the agreement but desribed is a “historic step forward’ to be built on later.

    The real deal-makers and deal-breakers are the US and China. Barack Obama’s speech this morning was lacklustre by his standards and he really hasnt’ given the convention the last-day jolt that everybody thought he would. But somehow behind the scenes, he seems to have managed to help forge a deal. Will it be meanginful or just something that will be holding, to be ironed out in Mexico next hyear.

    At the moment, I’m sitting in a crowded press room waiting for the EU to give us the latest news. It’s the second press conference room and it’s crowded to the gills, hundreds of journalists.

    There’s a huge sense of anticipation and excitement. What has been achieved after 12 days? Has a meanignful deal realy been brokered after 12 days?

    About two hours ago, somebody twittered that he was going to give a press conference in the main conference room. Within minutes the room was packed with huge queues of journalists outside trying to get in. The rumour turned out to be false. No press conference.

    For the last hour or so, there have been whispers that he will be leaving tonight for home. One of the US TV reporters told me it was more than a rumour and he was on his way home later on. That siganls a failure.

    Earlier, his announcement that the US would cut emissions by 17 per cent by 2020 wsa disappointing. That’s compared to 2005 levels. But compared to the baseline that everybody else uses – of 1990 – it’s less than 4 per cent.

    Of course, anything that he agrees here has to be steered through Congress. There is provision in the Climate Change Bill  for eventual increases. But people laid out hope like a red carpet for the US president but for a long time today it seemed to be in vain.

    Of course, every time there is a rumour about him here in the Bella Centre, the thousands of journalists take off like a flock of starlings. About three hours ago a rumour swept through the hall that he was going to give a press conference and there was a general melee to get in. It was a false alarm. Later, there was a rumour that he was leaving tonight. That seems to have been based on more solid foundations.

    So what happens now? Well, the deal will have to be put to a full plenary session. There’s a mechanism there that seems to suit China. India and South Africa have also reportedly signed up. What about the smaller poorer nations?

    The deal, on the face of it, seems to be weak. But we will have to wait and see when the full details emerge later.

Search Politics