Dispatch from Copenhagen

In COP15, Young voices on December 15, 2009 at 2:11 am

The climate change talks taking place in Copenhagen are on life support. One week in to the conference, and with one week to go, progress towards a worthwhile climate change deal has been slow. In order to salvage COP15, negotiators will have to double down in order to reach a deal.

Monday’s major news was a group of African nations walking out on negotiations and in dramatic fashion – late in the evening hour – choosing to come back to the negotiating table. Last week it was reported that the Danish government had met with a group of rich nations including the US outside of the formal process and agreed to a draft “text”. A text that could eventually become the agreement that the Copenhagen conference produces. Several poor nations were angered by what they perceived as a backdoor deal that favored rich nations. The mood has been sour and souring ever since, culminating in today’s walkout.


The walkout by African nations would have made a Copenhagen deal impossible and it reflects long held divisions. Organized as the G-77, developing nations want developed nations to commit to 40-45% emissions reductions from 1990 levels by 2020. And if you’ve been following international negotiations at all, you know that developed countries so far committed have committed to considerably less. The US’s commitment to 17% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020, is estimated to be only a 3-4% reduction from 1990 CO2 levels. And hell is more likely to freeze over before a change in US position.

G-77 countries want more ambition by way of emission reductions and adaptation financing. So far, developed countries haven’t budged. With one week to go and only two days until heads of state start to roll in, negotiators have to find a way to reach consensus in order for the Copenhagen conference to have a positive outcome.

An EU Commissioner characterized the atmosphere as “frozen”.  And that’s a fairly accurate description of where we stand currently.

Youth attending the conference have certainly made a their presence felt. US Youth representing the large youth delegation have organized events every single day of the conference calling for a fair and ambitious (FAB) deal.  After all, its young people who’ll bear the brunt of the negative effects of inaction on climate change.


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