Mark Lynas: Copenhagen Notebook

Share
Related Topics

* Being a negotiator is like representing yourself in court when you're accused of murder – not a good idea unless you really know what you're doing. It's a lot better if you're surrounded by teams of lawyers.

p>* All of the more powerful countries, such as China and the US, have dozens of people coordinating things and keeping each other informed, making sure that their positions are properly represented and argued for at each of the sessions that matter...

* ...which is incredibly difficult to do if you are – like us – a small island state such as the Maldives, which doesn't even have an office. We have had to conduct our business over coffee tables. It's very difficult to coordinate a meeting when you're in a melee of several thousand people and none of you know where the others are. We have to communicate by phone and we've all had to buy Danish mobiles to keep bills down.

* The reality of negotiating is that you have to take part in the legalistic process of arguing over square brackets in the texts, while knowing that any deal that emerges at the end is already being cooked up behind closed doors by the heads of state and senior ministers of the powerful countries.

* Negotiators know what the language means, what the process is, and how to play devious games to advance their cause, but that doesn't tend to get you anywhere. If you had hundreds of negotiators in a room the process could take two years, let alone two weeks.

* Then when you take it to ministerial level, they're not necessarily well-versed about the way it works. Kevin Rudd has a team of 100 people briefing him and condensing what he needs to know for each crucial meeting, but small developing countries just don't have that.

* I just came out of a negotiating session in which I was trying to figure out a proposed sub-clause that the Indians and the Chinese had put in to paragraph 13 when I got an email about the latest sea-level rise projections. I suppose you need to have that brought home to you every so often – and remember that for countries like the Maldives, it really is a matter of life and death.

Mark Lynas is attending Copenhagen as an adviser to the Maldives. He is the author of 'Six Degrees', the Royal Society's Science Book of the Year

Most talked at length about why the talking had to stop

Chris Green, Page 6

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

My Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent
African elephants in Botswana photographed by television presenter Chris Packham  

We've made incredible progress, but there's still more to do to make sure we save the elephant

Hugo Campbell
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'