Mark Lynas's Copenhagen Notebook
Tuesday 15 December 2009
The talks are little better than stalled at the moment – there's a constant sense of ongoing failure, and no sense that any of the parties are coming to the table with anything more positive or substantial, with the exception of a tiny few countries, including the Maldives.
President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives made an intervention to plead with some delegates in the plenary to just get on with some work, because all we were hearing were constant objections about the process. You have to ask: what's going on here, and whose agenda is being served by not getting anywhere with these negotiations?
This impasse is probably the agenda of the big developing countries, mainly China, who want to resist anything other than a discussion about what other countries should do – they don't want any kind of architecture that would ever give them any pressure to confront the issue of their own carbon emissions.
China is resisting any kind of monitoring or verification of their own supposed carbon targets, so nobody else from the outside can even check to see if they're doing what they say they are. It's a bizarre line to hold, and hardly a morally justifiable position, that you shouldn't be open about what you're doing – especially on something like carbon emissions, which know no borders and have consequences felt by the whole world.
There's a long way to go yet, but the Conference of the Parties (COP) president would like to get as much as possible done before the high-level segment starts on Wednesday, and also before the prime ministers arrive.
The situation at the moment is that if all of the proposals on the table go ahead, we will end up with about 4C of warming. The small island countries are working hard to get language back into the negotiating text which will eventually get us down to 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere by the end of the century. At the moment, even that's been removed, so we're already fighting a defensive battle, sacrificing any environmental integrity in the process.
The temperature target is also still under discussion – whether it's less than C or 1.5C or C only – and ultimately this will be decided between the Americans and the Chinese behind closed doors some time later this week.
Mark Lynas, one of Britain's leading climate change experts and author of 'Six Degrees', the Royal Society's Science Book of the Year, will be writing for 'The Independent' throughout the final stages of the Copenhagen negotiations. He is attending as an adviser to the Maldives
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