Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Copenhagen: Blow by blow by Chuck Baclagon
December 18, 2009, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Stop climate change | Tags: , , ,


Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

While we’re waiting to hear the announcements from Copenhagen – here’s a blow by blow account of what’s happened at the Summit so far – written by Martin Lloyd, our climate communications manager:

With thousands of negotiators and hundreds of points to agree it may be impossible to come up with a comprehensive account of what happened. But I’ll try and list some of the highlights.

At the start of the year the game-plan for success when it came to getting a fair, ambitious and binding agreement looked like this.

1. Rich countries needed to show they were serious by offering significant and guaranteed funds to support action by the developing world.

2. The developing world would then have the confidence to commit to action

3. Which would let Rich nations commit to stronger action

4. The handful of holdout nations would then face a world united for climate action

As the talks started, despite two years of negotiations there was almost no progress to report. Only a series of commitments from the developing world, all conditional on the rich countries coming up with the money.

So, what happened?

Day 1: South Africa joins India, China, Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia in tabling commitments as the big developing world countries call the bluff of the rich nations.

Day 2: After years of negotiating a UN agreement a plan by Denmark to introduce an alternative, greenwash text is leaked to the media. The Danes, it seems just want a deal that says Copenhagen at the top. They don’t care whether or not it will save the climate.

Day 3: Despite Tuvalu having met all the requirements for their proposals for a legally binding deal to be discussed their request is refused. Tuvalu and their supporters in the developing world bring the main negotiations to a halt until everyone agrees to play by the rules.

Day 4: Tuvalu asks for a group to be set up to discuss amendments to the Kyoto protocol. Again they’re turned down by those who fear a binding deal and another portion of the negotiations is halted.

Day 5: Negotiations resume on all fronts as rich nations realise they can’t steamroller the poor countries.

Day 6: As the negotiators take a rest day the global day of action sweeps around the world. 100 000 people take to the streets of Copenhagen and millions join events around the world – piling pressure onto the talks.

Day 7: Round 1 to Tuvalu! A legally binding deal is back on the table as it appears the Danes have given up on their alternative text when a promised update fails to appear. Battle lines have been clearly drawn, on one side the nations who know that only a binding deal will deliver results, and on the other side, everyone else.

Day 8: Do they never learn? Again the Danes try to sideline discussions on Kyoto. This time it is the Africans who walk out. The EU, Australia and Japan retaliate by refusing to discuss their own commitments. More lost hours.

In the forest sessions it becomes clear that everyone except the Americans and Columbians want a deal that won’t end up subsidizing forest destruction. Worryingly the amount of forest nations are talking about saving is being talked down.

Day 9: As the world’s environment Ministers arrive the summit goes into ‘high level’ mode. Unfortunately the efforts by the Danes and others to avoid discussion of the Kyoto protocol mean there is a huge amount of work to be done.

Day 10: With heads of state due to arrive everything is up in the air. There hasn’t been enough progress and the heads of state are going to have to earn their money.

Day 11: Finally some movement. Hilary Clinton proposes a fund worth $100 billion a year to support developing countries. It’s a number, but there’s no detail on where the money will come from. China responds by signaling that it is now prepared to talk about how its own commitments would be monitored – possibly removing a major block to a deal. The USA is still refusing to talk about a binding deal.As the heads of state prepare for their state dinner President’s Lula of Brazil and Sarkozy of France request that an evening meeting is convened to make progress.

Day 12: A world holds it’s breath.

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