Standort: / Meldung: "Frosty Inside Frosty Outside"

Chris Cummins

Letters from a shrinking globe: around the day in 80 worlds.

16. 12. 2009 - 15:17

Frosty Inside Frosty Outside

A blog from the climate talks in Copenhagen

It was a good day's work today simply reaching the venue of the climate talks - the massive concrete and glass Bella Centre. There was a beep on our bus driver’s radio on the shuttle ride to building. “Oh dear!”, he said cheerfully as he pulled over. “I can’t take you to the summit. The police have blocked the road.”

4,000 demonstrators were descending on the complex, intent on forcing their way in and holding a “people’s assembly.” The police barred the progress of the marchers and there were independent reports of protestors being treated for the aftermath of pepper-spray attacks and for wounds from batons. 150 people are said to have been arrested. Danish holding cells must be filling fast – there were over 1,000 arrests at the weekend.

I didn't see much of the protests, skirting around the police curtain in a long hike through the snow to get into the centre by an alternative route. It wasn't just cowardice I wanted to hear what the politicians had to say.

And it was worth the walk - the day in the media centre started with a jolt as the president of the UN climate conference president, Connie Hedegaard, announced her resignation this morning, saying it was “procedural.” I’m prepared to believe a lot of things in the land of Hans Christian Andersen, but that you make procedural moves at the end stage of perhaps the biggest international conference in Denmark’s history is one fairytale too many for me.

a globe outside the Bella Centre

chris cummins

Officially Hedegaard is handing over the reins to the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen because it is more appropriate for a head of government to preside over a meeting of so many heads of government and heads of state. But no-one here at the Bella Centre press room seems prepared to swallow that line.

Hedegaard’s stepping-down is much more likely to be part of the fall out of a increasingly bitter row between the developed and developing world that has stalled negotiations and left the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, usually the eternal optimist, admitting that these talks might fail. "It is possible that we will not get an agreement,” said Brown as he jetted to a wind-swept and bitterly cold Danish capital last night, “and it is also true that there are many issues to be sorted out."

so many people

chris cummins

Indeed, some developing countries have said they want the whole architecture of the talks to change and Hedegaard has been criticised by African nations for favouring rich nations in the negotiations.

So what are the issues that need sorting out?

Well, first of all, the developing world thinks that the West is planning to short change them at Copenhagen, shirking its “moral obligation” for the decades of high carbon growth that are seen to be already impacting the climates of low emitting African economies. They want to rich countries to pledge a bigger pot of climate aid than the annual $10bn currently on the table. Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it most bluntly when he simply told rich countries to "pay up".

The African bloc also wants an agreement building on all the essential principles of the Kyoto Protocol, the only existing legally binding global agreement to reduce greenhouse gases. In Kyoto the onus leading the fight against climate change lies with the Western. They have been upset since the leaking at the beginning of the conference of a secret draft known as the “Danish text” surfaced, penned by negotiators from a few select rich countries including the US and Denmark, that would abandon the Kyoto protocol. It would involve fix carbon targets for developing nations, whose emissions are projected to rise sharply in the coming decades, and would mean that, in 2050, people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much as poor countries.

protest video

chris cummins

protest video

A stand-off over the issue yesterday led to a 5 hour stall in negotiations. Hedegaard called a time out and then proposed that a core of ministers from just 50 nations met to hammer out a compromise solution. That incensed the hundred-odd nations that were left out and caused even more bad blood.

Such stalling is particularly damaging in a period when the powerful heads of state and government are arriving. Tine is very short. Negotiators here say that the leaders want to arrive to a very concrete draft proposal that they just have to put pen and paper to. They don't want to be forced into the risky game of last minute negociations that could see them giving away more than their respective domestic audiences are happy with. As Su Wei, China’s lead negotiator put it "I hope the only question we will leave for leaders is how to pronounce Copenhagen."

To sign a non-agreement is a show of political weakness – the danger is that many leaders might prefer simply not to turn up.

protestors outside the Bella Centre, Copenhagen

chris cummins

One way to keep warm in Copenhagen.