Dispatches from Copenhagen – Talks Extended

Simeon Talley, Blue Planet Green Living contributing writer and University of Iowa student, was selected by the Iowa United Nations Association to attend COP15 this week. This is Talley’s fourth report in the series, a late-breaking update. For background information about Talley’s trip, visit his own blog, The Road to Copenhagen. — Julia Wasson, Publisher


COPENHAGEN – COP15 TALKS JUST EXTENDED TO THE WEEKEND.

So much has happened, while so little real progress has been made.

Obama’s speech essentially reiterated the US’s already stated position: mitigation commitments by all major economies, transparency by both developing and developed countries alike, and US commitment of $10 billion in the short term/$100 billion in the long-term by 2020 for climate finance.

The US president didn’t say anything new. The 17% number has not moved, and he didn’t specify what the US contribution would be to the climate finance fund. But, in talking with journalists and delegates from developing countries, that’s exactly what they had hoped to hear. The speech is being interpreted as “take it or leave it,” which may play well with the domestic audience, but has not gone over well here.

The speech was primarily directed at the Chinese. After his speech, President Obama met with Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao; no word yet on the outcome.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon just requested to extend the conference into the weekend. This could mean one of two things: We are close to an agreement, but leaders need some more time; or not enough progress has been made on the last day.

This meeting with 193 representatives from each country and over 100 heads of state in attendance is becoming a bi-lateral meeting between China and the US. For all we know right now, the Chinese have not agreed to the American proposal.

A draft text that was leaked early this morning shows how far from consensus countries really are. Very, very troubling.

It’s late afternoon here in Copenhagen. There was a scheduled signing ceremony for 3 pm; but everyone is still waiting, still guessing as to what will happen. Pessimism is growing.

The scene inside the Bella Center is frenetic. Hundreds of journalists are all trying to piece this puzzle together. You find TV cameras stalked outside meeting rooms, where they don’t know who’s inside, but whomever they are, they want that quintessential shot.

More to come, as events continue to unfold …

Simeon Talley

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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Simeon Talley, Blue Planet Green Living contributing writer and University of Iowa student, was selected by the Iowa United Nations Association to attend COP15 this week. This is Talley’s third report in the series. For background information about Talley’s trip, visit his own blog, The Road to Copenhagen. — Julia Wasson, Publisher


COPENHAGEN – On the final day of COP15, the process of negotiations has moved from talks between delegates to direct communication between heads of states. As I write this, President Obama is in talks with other leaders over the remaining unresolved issues. CNN’s Ed Henry tweeted that President Obama has scuttled his schedule and is in a meeting with Ethiopia (representing China) Russia, South Africa, India, Mexico, Spain, South Korea, Norway, and Colombia. Accompanying President Obama to Copenhagen is a renewed sense of optimism for the prospects of success at COP15.



We know where the fault lines lie. We are essentially where we were two weeks ago: emission cuts that would limit temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius by 2020, climate finance, and whether developed countries like China, India and Brazil will agree to a system of international monitoring and verification. Whatever form of the final deal, it must include a nod toward — or even a better, a specific timeline or deadline for — a legally binding agreement.

What do we know now in the eleventh hour?

We know that these types of talks will proceed in the future on a two-track process: a Kyoto Protocol track and a long-term cooperative agreement track. The G-77 favors the Kyoto Protocol route, while the US, along with other developed countries, tried and failed to remove the Kyoto negotiating process from the Copenhagen proceedings.

We know that China can nix any final deal it doesn’t approve of, but the Chinese position has slightly softened. African nations, long distrustful of the US in these types of proceedings, effectively elevated their issues and concerns in Copenhagen. And President Obama will have to charm and cajole this international body forward or risk another major embarrassment in Copenhagen.

No one, I mean no one, really knows what the outcome of all of this will be. However, most are hoping for success.

Stay tuned: More to come.

Simeon Talley

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Follow Simeon Talley
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Simeon Talley, Blue Planet Green Living contributing writer and University of Iowa student, is one of only 10 young people selected by the Iowa United Nations Association to attend COP15 this week. In this, his second report, Talley updates us on the rising tensions at the conference. For background information about Talley’s trip, visit his own blog, The Road to Copenhagen. — Julia Wasson, Publisher


COPENHAGEN — The anxiety and anticipation rising in the conference center are palpable as the fault lines become more distinct and several entities attempt to resurrect negotiations. It’s Wednesday morning in Copenhagen, there are far fewer NGOs, a lot more press, and sightings of presidents and prime ministers scuttling to meetings. It’s difficult to make sense of everything that is taking place at these talks. But one thing is clear, the sense of urgency has heightened, and time is running out for nations to strike a deal.

Blue Planet Green Living Reporter Simeon Talley

Blue Planet Green Living Reporter Simeon Talley


Countries are divided along fairly typical lines: global north vs. global south, rich vs. poor. The G-77 plus China, the more than 100 countries in the developing world, want advanced developed nations to commit to deeper emissions reductions and more money to finance adaptation and mitigation — essentially a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.

So far, the only country to commit to emission cuts along the lines of IPCC recommendations is Norway. Of course not the US, but the EU hasn’t either. Developed countries have committed to a numerical amount for “fast track” ($10 billion US for three years) climate financing, but so far have been silent on long-term figures.

The US has shied away from a more ambitious commitment because of domestic political constraints. The EU is willing to commit to a 30% cut from 1990 levels, but only if other developed nations commit to that number as well. On the financing front, the US has balked at the notion that it’ll finance China — which holds $2 trillion in US reserves — to adapt to climate change.

This may seem like a redux of disagreements from three weeks ago, even three months ago, but they have still not been resolved in Copenhagen. Most heads of states are have arrived by now, with anticipation growing for President Obama’s arrival on Friday. Because so much disagreement, the final deal will mostly reflect the commitments each country has put on the table prior to the start of the conference. And it’s most likely that the entire UNFCCC process will continue along a two-track pathway. A Kyoto Protocol (read: not including the US and what poor countries are advocating for) and a Long-Term Cooperative Agreement path (what the US has been pushing for and would push for emerging economies like China to be held to greater emission cuts).

Whatever the final shape the Copenhagen agreement takes, it is absolutely necessary that it include a timeline and a deadline for when a legally binding agreement will be signed. Many outstanding issues still need to be resolved, climate finance being only one of them. But to leave Copenhagen without a deadline for a legally binding agreement would essentially be a failure.

Outside of the conference center, many of the NGOs who are not allowed inside are protesting, leading to a large number of arrests. The UN has cut severely the number of Civil Society participants that can enter the Bella Center, where the conference is taking place. 45,000 people were accredited to attend the conference; the conference center can only accommodate 15,000 people. In the first week and on Monday of this week, no restrictions were placed on attendance; but as heads of states arrive, security has been tightening.

Simeon Talley

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Follow Simeon Talley
Simeon-Talley
Twitter:
simeontalley
Facebook:  Simeon Talley

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