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Copenhagen report: Day 11

17 December 2009

The penultimate day of the Copenhagen climate conference saw resolution of Wednesday's procedural deadlocks; an important US announcement on financing; continuation of formal country statements; and the conspicuous absence of practically all observer organizations.

Following another late night and further informal consultations, Convention and Protocol plenary meetings were convened to agree a process to conclude their work.  Countries agreed to the establishment of open-ended drafting groups to deal with outstanding issues under both negotiating tracks. 

Parties also agreed to use the final versions of the two 'Chairs' texts as the basis for their negotiations.  This effectively closed the door on the controversial 'Presidents text proposed on Wednesday. 

Drafting groups met throughout the afternoon and into the evening. A report-back on the Convention negotiations in mid-evening indicated that progress had been in a number of the groups, including technology transfer. In all groups, however, political deadlocks remained, particularly on crunch issues of targets and finance.

Unfortunately, further work was delayed due to disagreement over how best to proceed.  Developed countries expressed a wish to seek ministerial input on deadlock issues. Many developing countries, however, favoured the continuation of the negotiator-led drafting groups.

A compromise was reached and negotiators returned to work with instructions to report back again later in the evening.  Both the Protocol and Convention drafting groups were expected to work late into night, with the objective of providing final text to ministers in the morning.

Earlier in the day US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced to the Conference that that the US was willing to play its part in mobilizing $100 billion of climate finance by 2020.  This was in the context of a fair and balanced global agreement.  The Secretary also stated that the US would help to provide $10 billion of 'fast-start' funding by 2012. 

Details of how, when, and from where, the short and long-term funding would be generated were not given.  However, the acceptance of the $100 billion-figure represents an important step for the US, which to date has refrained from discussing concrete financing numbers.  Separately, Japan said that it would raise its climate aid to $15 billion by 2012.

In parallel to the negotiations, a steady stream of heads of state and ministers continued to deliver country statements throughout the day.  With just 300 NGO observers allowed through the security cordon, Presidents and Prime Ministers found themselves delivering speeches to a largely empty auditorium. 

The disappearance of 7000 observers brought a marked changed to the atmosphere of the conference.  In the absence of placate-waving polar bears the carnival-type feel of the first 10 days was replaced with a more serious and somber tone.

In summary, this was a mixed day.  With positive signals from some quarters, but continuing delays in others, the negotiations are coming down to the wire. 

With less than 24 hours to go before its scheduled conclusion, the outcome of the conference hangs in the balance.  While it still remains possible for leaders to pull the climate rabbit from the global warming hat, Connie Hedegaard's warning that "we can fail" could still prove to be the epitaph of Copenhagen 2009.


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