Friday, 18 December 2009

Politicians talk, leaders decide - in an hour or so

Copenhagen update: 11.30am

The main talks, involving 30 countries, have broken up for an hour to allow officials time to tidy up a text and some important bi-lateral meetings to take place. in the meantime the US is meeting with China on the all-important issue of verification.

The meeting will bring together the world’s two largest emitters of carbon dioxide, between them responsible for about 40 per cent of global emissions.

The US thinking is that they cannot give substantial amounts of money to tackle climate change on a no-strings basis. If so it would become a matter of negotiating foreign aid, which this isn’t. The Chinese, who have been quite vocal in the meeting we’re told, have issues over sovereignty

Paul Bengo, the chief of staff for the Papua New Guinea president, says Gordon Brown is mediating between the US and China in a bid to break the impasse.

So the critical session starts at noon (11.15am in the UK) with Gordon Brown still optimistic for a deal. The spirit of the talks is that this has to be done today.

The important thing is that they are not talking about is emission levels which means that we could see quite a bad deal on what was meant to be steep reductions in CO2 levels from the developed world. The leaders won’t be thanked for not coming to a good deal on that.

President Wen Jiabao of China is talking just now in the plenary session, where delegates and leaders go to make speeches as others sit listening (think working session of a TUC conference). Now President Luiz Lula da Silva of Brazil is on but no sign yet of Obama.

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