Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Buzz on Day Three

There were two main topics for discussion around the “climate kitchen” table* on Wednesday: the ‘leaked’ Danish briefing and the suspension of the COP plenary session.

By lunchtime, many were talking about the "leaked" draft for an interim climate agreement from the Danish delegation, which presumably included the UK and US in its discussions. In particular, many of the Danish people and others from the Scandinavian countries said they felt betrayed, and said it was as if the Danish weren’t acting in good faith. The developing countries, meanwhile, made it clear that they will never agree to mandatory emissions reductions.

By the end of the day, though, the discussions turned to the showdown in the LCA plenary.  Tuvalu won the first “Ray of the Day”** award in recognition of its action. In June 2009, the US, Australia, Japan, Costa Rica and Tuvalu each proposed protocols (called “implementing agreements”). On Wednesday, all five presented their proposals. Other small island and least-developed countries agreed with Tuvalu’s proposal for creation of a Contact Group. They were blocked by Saudi Arabia, along with India, China and others.  Other countries, including the US and EU remained silent. Connie Hedegaard suggested informal closed door negotiations, but Tuvalu rejected this, saying "This is not something to be discussed in a small room with a few people.  We have an obligation to youth and to observers.  This is too important legally and morally to push off into some informal process." Tuvalu and the other small island nations want, and need, developed countries to raise their emission reduction commitments. Along with other island nations, they are pushing for a 350 ppm limit for greenhouse gases and they are calling for no more than 1.5 degree C global warming. If the world continues with “business as usual,” the small island nations may disappear in our generation. The plenary was suspended late morning, and then reconvened shortly at 3:00 PM. With no consensus, the plenary was suspended for the day.

Some of the issues at stake include the scale of emissions reductions by the developed nations, the idea of “differentiation” (where certain developing countries would have separate targets), and the extent that developed countries will provide financing and technology to help the developing countries with mitigation and adaptation.

*Throughout the conference center, there are cafés and “climate kitchens.”  The cafés offer quiche with salad and sandwiches, while the climate kitchens offer a choice of two hot dishes with salad (one vegetarian, one with meat).  Compared to other venues in Copenhagen, these are a great value: $10 will get you a main course and a drink. Yesterday’s menu: lasagna.

**The “Ray of the Day” award is just the opposite of the “Fossil of the Day” award.  

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