Saturday, 12 December 2009


The agenda says that the plenary meeting of the Conference of Parties will resume at 10.00. Conference president Connie Hedegaard takes her seat at 10.10 and shuffles papers. Five minutes later she is called into a huddle of advisors to the side of the platform. She resumes her seat. A new huddle starts around her. By 10.35 she seems to be ready to start, but nothing happens. Is it time to scream “get on with it?” In the European Parliament members would have started a slow handclap half an hour ago. At 10.39 she gets business under way.

She reminds the negotiators that we are half way through the fortnight’s proceedings, that the COP was formally suspended 3 days ago, although detailed business has continued in side meetings. On the issue of Article 17, which is whether whatever is agreed by the conference will be worth the paper it is written on, she claims that progress is being made but more time is needed.

Tuvalu takes the floor, with a speech clearly intended to emphasise its position and communicate with a greater audience. “The entire population of Tuvalu lives just 2 metres above sea level. We need to conclude with legally binding agreements. Our proposals have been on the table for 6 months.” He becomes emotional: “I woke this morning and I was crying. The fate of my country lies in your hands.”

Business moves on to discuss the draft conclusions paper submitted yesterday. Almost all say that it provides the basis for negotiations. The USA makes clear that it causes them severe problems. Sweden, on the other hand, speaking on behalf of the EU, slams it as inadequate: it will not do the job of preventing temperatures from rising by more than 2 deg centigrade, it makes provision for controls on only one third of global emissions, it does not properly reflect the Bali action plan, and it does not provide for an agreement that will be truly binding. Good stuff! I just wish I had confidence that Europe’s prime ministers shared the convictions of our negotiators.

You would not guess from the scores of other comments made that the document was so unsatisfactory. Platitude after platitude pours forth about the need to work together and build on the basis of this text, with recurring themes being the issue of legal certainty and the need for stronger financial commitments to help with climate change mitigation.

The daily information sheet includes a notice than an ADDITIONAL meditation and prayer room has been made available in Hall B3. I guess the first one just became too crowded.

The session concludes at noon.

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