Copenhagen report: Day 6

13 December 2009

After 5 days of behind-the-scenes negotiation, open stocktake sessions of both the Convention and Kyoto Protocol negotiating tracks were held today. 

Danish climate minister and President of the Conference, Connie Hedegaard, reported on considerable progress over the first week and noted the flexibility being shown by Parties. The small Pacific island state of Tuvalu (pop. 12,300, mean elevation 2m), however, gave an impassioned plea for greater progress. The delegate lamented the fact that movement in Copenhagen appeared to be dependent on the domestic discussions of a few US senators.

The Chair of the Convention negotiations explained that his aim was to have agreed texts ready by Tuesday (i.e. in time for the start of the High-Level ministerial segment of the conference). These would be in the form of decisions covering the five core issues of the Bali Action Plan (shared vision; emission cuts, adaption, technology & financing). The Chairs own text (released Friday) would provide the overarching framework for these specific decisions. The Chair noted that the issues of mitigation, shared vision, and the legal form of the agreement were the areas requiring most work.

In their statements, most parties acknowledged the progress made on issues such as finance, technology transfer, and deforestation. Developed countries, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the Chairs treatment of emission reduction commitments and actions. The EU stated that in its current form the text did not give any certainty of keeping temperatures below 2oC of warming because of the lack of clarity over developing country mitigation action. The US, Australia, and Norway also highlighted this as an area of concern. By contrast, developing countries expressed their support of the Chairs text, noting that it provided a good basis on which to continue negotiations.  Informal consultations lead by the Danish Presidency will continue over the weekend.

The Protocol stocktake highlighted the continuing divide between developed and developing countries on the post-2012 architecture. Responding to the Chairs text for the Protocol negotiations, developing countries noted their general satisfaction. Developed countries, however, voiced concerns, stressing that a global and comprehensive agreement (ie one that covers all countries) was needed to truly reduce emissions. The G77 stated that dismantling the Kyoto Protocol was unacceptable.

Both stocktakes provided observers with a useful indication of the state of the negotiations. Given the potential flashpoints that could have seriously undermined talks in the first week, the progress reported is encouraging (at least for those who like to consider their glass half full). However, as countries and the negotiating chairs all acknowledged, the critical make or break issues of emission targets and legal form remain largely unresolved. These are the tough political nuts that ministers must crack next week. The good news is that there are solutions on the table. The question is whether the political will is.

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