COP15 Climate Talks in Disarray - Again

Thomas Schueneman

It is no 4:30 in the afternoon in Copenhagen. Truth be told, I was out on a press trip most of today with three other journalists visiting some of Denmark's leading companies and research organizations involved in various facets of biomass, co-generation technology, and renewable energy. It is good to get away from the madness of the Bella Center and see what is being done on the, shall I say, real world to help blaze the path to a sustainable future.

COP15 - the whole world is watching

But the relative calm can't last forever. The big news waiting for me at COP15 was a "walkout" from the delegation representing African nations. The fact is, using the work "walkout" isn't accurate. As I understand it, African nations, with the support of the G77, have postponed their participation with informal talks in the working groups around noon today because they accuse developed nations of refusing to discuss binding targets in informal talks. Today's development is similar to what happened in preliminary talks last month in Barcelona.

A plenary session for all nations was put on hold, with informal talk going on this afternoon in an attempt to get things back on track. Nonetheless, the divide persists between rich and poor nations. The developing world insisting on an "extension" (or second commitment period) of Kyoto - with new aggressive mitigation targets that include non-Kyoto countries on separate, binding track - and developed countries that, some are reporting, want to "scrap" the Kyoto Protocol and move forward with a new "single track".

At today's press briefing, Yvo de Boer said that "the vast majority want to see a continuation of Kyoto." When asked about a possible "boycott" of the talks by some countries, de Boer said he was not aware of "anyone trying to block anything."

Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said "This not about blocking the talks - it is about whether rich countries are ready to guarantee action on climate change and the survival or people in Africa and across the world."

The next four days will be a rock ride at the Bella Center in Copenhagen.


Climate Politics & Policy