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Copenhagen: Leaders Arriving, A "Crime Scene," and A Walk-Out

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COPENHAGEN — The weekend break between the two weeks of the Copenhagen climate negotiations showed two things: on one hand hundreds of thousands of people around the world are willing to hold rallies to support an international climate agreement (by some estimates 100,000 alone in Copenhagen), and on the other, it appears that there was actually very little progress made last week on the key issues needed to deliver an agreement. That means the heads of state, who will arrive and begin to speak as early as Wednesday, are left with the bulk of the decisions and a lot of hard work on fundamental issues like emissions targets, long term financing, a shared vision of the agreement and even the legal framework of the final document.

Marcelo Furtado, Executive Director, Greenpeace Brazil, said on Monday morning that negotiators had done so poorly last week that they left a “crime scene” for the arriving heads of states, and that developed countries had clearly “failed to do their homework.” Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the current drafts from the developed world on the table would deliver an increase in emissions.

Alders noted in the morning that African delegates were planning to raise issues about the way Connie Hedegaard, Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, was organizing the negotiations of the week (around a single track instead of two tracks). The issue is that there are now several draft texts floating around that negotiators are sharing and debating, including the Long-term Co-operative Action draft, backed by the U.S. and the developed world, and the Kyoto Protol draft, backed by the developing world. The developing world is worried that the Kyoto Protocol draft is not getting enough attention through the way that Hedegaard organized the process.

We’re hearing early reports that African delegates, and possibly more negotiators from the G77, a group which represents 130 developing countries, walked out in protest over concerns that the Kyoto Protocol will be abandoned. Australia’s Climate Change Minister Penny Wong told Australian news reporters that organizers were trying to “coax back the developing world.”

DeBoer said in a press conference this morning that the G77 countries were concerned that not enough attention was being given to the Kyoto Protocol track, but said Hedegaard was having informal talks with groups explaining how the negotiation tracks would work to get everyone on a good path for Friday.

UN Climate Chief Yvo de Boer and Hedegaard gave a press conference on Saturday where they put a rosier glow on areas of progress made by negotiators last week but maintained that a lot more needs to be done in terms of financing issues and emissions reductions commitments. “Good intentions are not enough,” said de Boer. After listening to the speakers at the rally this weekend, to business leaders at the Kronborg Castle and watching two of the free films being shown around Copenhagen — “The Age of Stupid,” and “The Yes Men Fix the World” — de Boer’s words are a decidedly mild way to put it.

It remains to be seen what the heads of state can actually do upon their arrival this week. But to reach any kind of agreement there will have to be significant shifts in their statements and emissions reductions targets. A few are starting to inch forward — India has offered to adopt the guidelines under the UNFCCC, and report to Parliament on its domestic goals. But China and the U.S., as expected, will be the ones that need to move closer.