Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Ghost of Copenhagen

In an unusual move, the president of the COP,  Ms. Espinosa, called a special meeting on Sunday afternoon for an "informal stocktaking."  Her main agenda was to outline the procedures going forward as the ministers arrive and the high-level segment begins on Tuesday.   She emphasized that we will continue with a two-track process, maintaining balance, transparency, and inclusiveness.  She categorically stated that the the ministers would contribute to the work underway, but they would not be expected to draft compromise language, nor have informal sessions.  She reiterated that there would be no separate process. From her formal statement:
  • "Ministers will not be expected to draft compromise language, but to help identify where balance is to be found. 
  • Ministers will not convene informal sessions of any sort, but will instead approach every delegation they
    believe ought to be consulted at each specific moment and remain accessible to all. 
  • Ministers will not limit their contacts to other ministers, but will be open to dialogue with all and they will reach out to the representatives that each party has decided to appoint. 
  • Ministers will not relief the Chairs of their responsibilities in any way, but will support their efforts to resolve matters that have so far not advanced in a more formal setting."
The entire document can be found at

From the comments of parties that followed, it is clear that many in the room were very unhappy with the process at Copenhagen, which began with "leaked" documents and ended with the Copenhagen Accord forged by only the leaders of a handful of countries.  In almost all of the statements, the need for transparency and inclusiveness was reiterated.  The Yemen representative (G77+China) specifically said there should be no "shadowy ministerial process;" a view that was endorsed by most others.

There were two particularly poignant and moving statements. The first was by the Venezuela diplomat, who noted that currently much of her country is currently in a state of emergency from flooding. She pleaded for the COP process to move quickly and to come to some binding agreements.  (For more on the flooding there, go to  The Colombian diplomat also spoke of her country's recent flooding, with over 70% of its river banks overflowing. (For more, go to ) She noted that in several negotiation sessions, there is talk of "elephants in the room."  She believes that the "elephant in the room" is the "ghost of Copenhagen."  She believes that if trust is not rebuilt and progress made, then the COP will lose its legitimacy. Both of these statements received significant applause -- Ms. Espinosa is hopeful that the acknowledgement signifies a new attitude that will lend towards getting the work done quickly.

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