Thursday, 10 December 2009


She nearly got away with it. The gavel came down with the words “it is so decided.” Then her aide whispered into her ear, and her heart must have sunk.

Like every meeting chairman, and especially one presiding over representatives of 192 countries at a conference with a lot of controversial business to consider and limited time in which to do it, Connie Hedegaard’s priority is to get through the agenda as efficiently as she can.

She had just announced her recommendation that private consultations should take place about the shape of any changes to the Kyoto Protocol intended to make decisions taken at the Copenhagen conference binding, with proposals to be brought back in two days’ time, and no-one had jumped up to express dissent.

The words came out reluctantly: “I give the floor to Tuvalu.”

Tuvalu’s representative, who has already become an environmentalists’ hero after his performance yesterday, apologised but said he had indicated his wish to speak before the gavel descended. Private consultations were not good enough. He wanted open discussion - here, now, on the floor of the conference.

The floodgates opened. A host of others indicated their support for the idea. Connie suspended the meeting for 10 minutes of talks in the corner about what to do.

She returned 30 minutes later. “Sorry. We have not achieved a consensus. I’m suspending the sitting for more discussions.”

The gavel came down again.

So the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is suspended, and so is the parallel Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. And both on the same issue.

No comments: