Mark Lynas's Copenhagen Notebook: 19/12/2009

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The Independent Online

*At the stage of the negotiations where it becomes a waiting game, even the senior officials, delegations and ministers have absolutely no idea what is going on.

The entry system for the meetings works on a "head of state plus one" basis, so there's a constant struggle between the ministers and technical officials. The former want to be there because they're senior; and the latter because they know the most and would probably be more helpful.

*There are rooms full of frustrated people who are extremely well-informed about the whole process, but are unable to participate. The mood swings like a pendulum between desperate optimism and morbid pessimism.

*One minute everyone knows the entire process is headed towards irrevocable failure, then half an hour later a new revised text arrives, and people begin frantically analysing it. But either way, it doesn't look like a deal will be done at the moment.

*Occasionally it's possible to sneak into the room while Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are there, and those who have up-to-date knowledge are immediately pumped for information by officials.

Mark Lynas, one of Britain's leading climate change experts and author of 'Six Degrees', the Royal Society's Science Book of the Year, has been writing for 'The Independent' throughout the final stages of the Copenhagen negotiations. He was attending as an adviser to the Maldives