By Ashwani Kumar
| December 11th 2009 06:16 PM | Print
What's new at COP15 in Copenhagen
In the main atrium of the Bella Center is a huge globe, a few meters in diameter with countries painted in black on the white surface. Many people use this globe as a backdrop for souvenir photos, to show people back home what it was like in Copenhagen. Some are adopting an Atlas pose, as if they are carrying the world above their heads. It might indeed be true that people at the Bella Center are holding the whole world in their hands, or at least the future of this beautiful planet we are striving to protect from disaster. At closer look, however, the Bella Center globe isn’t that beautiful, and it doesn’t even show the whole world.
Today word made the rounds that some countries are missing on the globe, apparently a whole range of small island states in the Pacific.
Let’s hope this is just due to a lack of black ink, and not a dark vision of a future with runaway climate change. It is certainly a diplomatic faux pas, and NGOs and island state delegates are already brainstorming a solution. It probably won’t be long until some of them will fix the problem with a pen and add the missing islands to the globe, turning this dark vision of flooded and inundated islands into a hopeful vision of islands that are made climate-proof through a fair, ambitious and binding climate deal.
Tuvalu and other members of the Alliance of Small Island States remain the hottest topic on the corridors of the Bella Center. There is exciting proposals on their way from the small island states, and we hope that they will help keep the option of a strong, legally binding outcome alive in the debate. The proposals from the small island states are very similar to what WWF and other NGOs have been promoting, and we will support their proposal as best we can in the next days.
In his press conferences today, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said that he senses real seriousness in the negotiations, and that everybody is doing hard work resulting in good progress. In some areas that’s really true, and there have been encouraging news, whether on bunker fuels from aviation and shipping, or on the so called “Shared Vision” for joint action by the developed and developing world, where WWF observers have seen progress they described as almost shockingly smooth. But: there are also many interruptions and suspensions, and as a result a lot of important work doesn’t get done.
With only a couple of real negotiating days left before the ministers take over, time is running out to deal with all the tasks that remain open. That’s why parties are now throwing their shorter alternative texts into the mix, and why decisions have to be made which elements qualify for the “best of” which ministers would negotiate in week 2.
All these parallel developments and the lack of clarity on what might happen next make Copenhagen a bit hectic and confusing. Nobody has ever tried a COP with this level of complexity in terms of the levels of negotiations that have to be handled more or less at the same time.
But WWF has a great team of issue experts on the ground, who are all equipped with a deep understanding of the issues that are being discussed, and with good connections to delegates who drive the negotiations. This helps us to keep an overview and ensure the most important thing: that the substance is strong and loopholes are avoided, no matter what text might make it into the second week. We are employing a clear and simple benchmark for success on Deal Day next Friday (or Saturday), a list of ten crucial points including ambitious emission reduction targets in developed countries and sufficient funding for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.
If the Copenhagen outcome enshrines these ten points in a legally binding agreement, the dark vision of lost island states depicted on the Bella Center globe will never become reality.