COP15: tensions mount, still no clear way forward

A simmering cocktail of fatigue, confusion, irritation and frustration was once again apparent at today’s morning briefing held by business and industry officials attending, or trying to attend, the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen.

Representatives from a variety of non-governmental organisations discussed developments that occurred Wednesday as negotiators and ministers continued trying to reach a new, strengthened post-Kyoto agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuels.

People attending this morning’s meeting at the Bella Center and others listening in at the nearby Crowne Plaza hotel via an audio link heard about protests that occurred Wednesday outside the COP-15 meeting when people demanding “Climate Justice” tried to force their way inside the heavily-guarded facility, resulting in police using tears gas, dogs and batons to detain more than 250 people.

The NGOs also learned that a number of people and environmental groups had their access removed yesterday as a result of the protests outside.

They were also reminded today that, because of increased security measures prior to the imminent arrival of Heads of State, fewer and fewer previously-accredited people would be allowed into the Bella Centre between now and Friday when the talks are scheduled to close.

As they did in the NGO meeting Wednesday, people continued to report back today on their frustration and disbelief that the climate change negotiating procedures were taking too long and still involved repeated changes to various proposed texts, which will eventually go to ministers and Heads of State.

One NGO officials said he had heard someone saying, “it’s time to launch the lifeboats from the Titanic and work with what’s on the table.”

There was also a reference to a statement yesterday from Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren who, acting on behalf of the European Union, suggested the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest emitters of destructive greenhouse gases, should promise to do more to battle global warming.

COP15: make or break By Eleanor Smith, European Renewable Energy Council

I have been following the news since I left Copenhagen yesterday and I am torn on how to feel about COP15.

It is a reassurance that people are making their voices heard in such numbers, surely that cannot go unheard.

If heads of State do not come to an acceptable decision in the next couple of days, it will be one of the most disappointing moments in the history of climate change policy.

Two articles in the English speaking news today, with a very different tone on the progress of negotiations:

The Guardian,

"Wahu Kaara, a Kenyan member of the People’s Movement for Climate Change, said direct action was vital after the failure of the talks so far.

"Sovereignty of the people is the only solution to the climate crisis. Negotiators in the rooms make deals for profit at the expense of people’s lives."

Yvo de Boer, the head of the UN’s climate change secretariat, talked to the protesters inside the centre. "I’m stuck between a rock and hard place," he said, shortly before asking: "Do you want to talk to me or do you want to fight me?"

The New York Times,

"A final agreement on the program [REDD] may not be announced until the end of the week, when President Obama and other world leaders arrive in part because there has been so little progress on other issues at the climate summit meeting, sponsored by the United Nations.

It is likely to be the most concrete thing that comes out of Copenhagen and it is a very big thing, said Fred Krupp, head of the Environmental Defence Fund."

And one article in the French press comparing the negotiations with a game of poker, where the situation can turn around at the last minute:

"At the Bella Centre, where the summit is taking place, many people fear that the conference will end with just a simple political declaration. But, even if the atmosphere is not positive, nothing is stopping a last minute break-through. The negotiations are also a game of poker in which everybody keeps their game secret until the last moment.

Meanwhile, heads of state started to arrive on Wednesday. By late afternoon, a rumour, one more, reported "good news" with the imminent arrival of a new draft. The evening is just beginning. Behind the scenes, negotiations continue".

Meanwhile, talks to save the planet from catastrophic climate change were on the brink of collapse this morning (17 December) as officials from the three main blocs – rich countries, major developing economies, and small island states – said they had given up on getting a substantive deal.

Even as 115 world leaders began arriving to put their personal imprint on a deal, the summit hosts were admitting they had failed to broker an agreement.

A musical note to end on:

Eleanor Smith, European Renewable Energy Council

Wind power can meet 65% of tabled 2020 emissions reductions

Against the backdrop of the ongoing climate negotiations in Copenhagen, the Global Wind Energy Council today released calculations showing that wind energy alone could achieve up to 65% of the emissions reductions pledges by industrialised countries.

The calculations were released on a press conference at the Bella Centre, where Nick Nuttall, Spokesman, UNEP, Steve Sawyer, Secretary General, GWEC, Han Junliang, CEO, Sinovel and Tulsi Tanti, Chairman, Suzlon participated in the panel. Emmissions reductions of at least 25-40% below 1990 levels are required to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

With wind energy and other clean energy technologies that are available now, this and more can be achieved. According to GWEC, global wind energy alone could contribute 34% of a 25% emissions reduction and 21% of a 40% emissions reduction.

The GWEC document also outlines emissions reductions potentials from wind power in Europe, the US, India and China, concluding that wind power, if properly deployed, can take all of these regions a big step towards reaching their climate goals.

“The wind energy sector stands ready to contribute a total of 10 bn tons of CO2 reductions by 2020,” said Steve Sawyer. “Industrialised countries can and must review their pledges for reduction targets and raise them very substantially, as well as assisting developing countries’ often ambitious programmes to decarbonise their electricity systems with both public finance and private investment through the carbon markets.”