16 December, 2009

Gridlocked COP15 is giving place to a political summit

When Connie Hedegaard renounced the presidency of COP15 this morning, she also marked the transition from a diplomatic meeting to a political one.

Sergio Abranches

Connie Hedegaard has been working hard facing the enormous challenge posed by the Chair of COP15, while in the midst of a political arm-wrestling with Danish Prime-Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen. When she resigned the Chair of COP15 it became clear that she was forced to yield politically to the Prime Minister. It has also become the symbolic indication of an unprecedented turn of events at the Climate Summit. The formal diplomatic conference is deadlocked, while an intense maneuvering of top global leaders looks for a political solution.

Today there are two different events taking place under the umbrella of the Climate Convention. One is the continuation of the formal agenda for the first day of COP15’s high level segment. The other is a semi-virtual series of intense consultations among the heads of state, both here in Copenhagen and elsewhere, through videoconference and telephone calls.

The formal meeting is hopelessly gridlocked. After a whole night of hard work, negotiators weren’t able to deliver a working draft. After hours of consultations ministers and heads of delegations have also failed to agree on the critical points. Polarization between the US and G77 reemerged last night blocking any further progress.

The best outcome negotiators could yield was to somehow return the drafts to the status they were at the beginning of the week.

The prevailing assessment here is that the diplomatic track of the climate meeting has reached a dead end. The high level segment, where negotiations are conducted by ministers and heads of delegations has also showed it is powerless. So far it has only reproduced the polarizations and gridlocks of the so-called “technical segment”.

The only hope now is that top level political conversations, above and beyond the formalities of the Conference of the Parties, can find a solution to the major points of conflict. Heads of state are expected to accomplish in 48 hours what three years of negotiations have failed to achieve: an effective agreement.

The generalized sentiment here is that either the heads of state are able to announce such a deal, or they will be forced to admit failure.

This admission would be an ironic anticipation of the ad created by the NGO Greenpeace to welcome COP15 participants. The ad depicts top global leaders in 2020 admitting to have failed in Copenhagen and to be responsible for the climatic consequences of their failure.

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