Copenhagen Climate Conference: Day 10

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The possibility of agreement in Copenhagen is all but lost. As world leaders arrived at the UN Climate Change Conference, there ultimately may be nothing for them to vote on.

As protestors outside the Bella Convention Centre were doused in pepper spray beaten with batons and 230 of them arrested and detained, inside negotiators still dealing with core issues debated until just before dawn, without setting new goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or for financing poorer countries efforts to cope with climate change, which are viewed as the two key elements if any deal is to be reached.

“We are extremely disappointed” said Ian Fry, from the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu. “I have the feeling of dread, we are on the Titanic and sinking fast. Its time to launch the lifeboats” he added.

After nine days of largely unproductive talks, the lower-level delegates are wrapping up the first phase of the two week conference and handing off the disputes to environment ministers in a critical second phase.

While there are reports of a new proposal on its way to the conference, any deal is going to be subject to China agreeing to one key point – third party confirmation. Something they are not willing to consider.

It may sound very obtuse to suggest that this conference, billed as the most important the world has ever seen, all the hype and fanfare under which it started will come to one single point. Unless China, the worlds largest polluter comes on board, then what is the point?

And as of early this morning, China is not changing its position, stating they no longer see a possibility of achieving an operational accord to tackle global warming. Suggesting “a short political declaration of some sort”. It would appear that China has left the building, at least mentally, if not physically.

The U.S. has put its position on the table – 17% cut from 2005 levels by 2020 – a far cry from the 34% cut developing countries are looking for. The US also signalled a willingness to pay their “fair share” into a 10 billion US dollar fund to help developing countries. They also stressed that President Barack Obama won’t be bringing anything to the talks beyond what has been promised. “We don’t want to promise something we don’t have” said Todd Stern, chief of the US delegation.

The US, the worlds second largest polluter, has the loudest voice when it comes to calling on China to allow inspectors in to verify that reductions are being made. The US does not believe they would be able to get any change through the House and Senate without China agreeing to inspectors.

With less than 48 hours to go, unless these two countries can find some common ground, the possibility of any substantial deal is looking very grim indeed.

  • Mark Spowart

    A writer and photographer, Spowart has publication credits in Canada, United States, Europe and Norway with such publications as The Globe & Mail, The National Post, Sun Media, Canwest News, and Canada News Wire.

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