From the TUC

Copenhagen Diary #5: Impatient observers

11 Dec 2009, by in Environment

A day of closed sessions, with few details leaking out into the corridors as governments discuss a new and as yet unpublished text. Observers are waiting impatiently by the documents counter for the product of the last night’s dawn breaking talks, both in plenary and informal “crunch” sessions. A mega meeting with Observers and the UN Chair was cancelled. Things are beginning to move. But where?

One EU delegation told us yesterday that the political conditions were “still set for an ambitious deal”, but delegations will have to move to make it happen. With 35,000 people in town for the COP, and dozens of meetings taking place, no-one can keep track of all the influences and accommodations.Therefore, as government officials argue, this process will soon need a text that encapsulates choices, which they can present to Ministers on Monday and then on to the 100 heads of state arriving on Wednesday to wrap up the deal .

This negotiating language is familiar to trade unions – the list of failures to agree, key negotiating points, bottom lines, crunch meetings etc. But this set up is different. A move to a closed session, high level final deal will, we argue, lack legitimacy, because Observers, that is the whole range of civil society Observers here, don’t have a place at the able.

It feels a little as if Mother Earth is sitting on one side of a table somewhere, watching her glaciers slip into the sea and typhoons rising up, while on the other side of this table governments haggle over what to present to her as a deal – this or that CO2 figure or new multi-billion Fund. Sometimes they withdraw into private conservatiosn that she can, however, overhear. Elsewhere completely, of course, bankers count their bonuses and scheme Tobin tax evasion. But what is on the table?

As the daily Eco Bulletin published here remnds us, the IPCC points out that UN’s CO2 targets give the world a 50/50 chance of averting a rise in average global temperatures above 2 degrees C. The UK’s ambitious and binding target of a 34% cut by 2020 is wrapped up in the global figues tabled here. However good we may feel we are being, so far, the offers add up to a range from 16% to 23% below 1990 levels, according to a UN figure issued two days ago.

No wonder her impatience is rising.