"Copenhagen, Day Eight: Climate progress behind closed doors"
LA Times: The public conflicts at the UNFCCC conference are “one big optical illusion.”
As the second and final week of the the United Nations Climate Change Conference begins, the Bella Center is now thronged with members of civil society, the world press, and governmental delegations, overwhelming the 15,000-person facility. At the end of the week over 110 heads of state will arrive, meet, and speak publicly on whether they can sufficiently address this existential threat.
Progress behind Closed Door
Negotiations continue behind closed doors, as developing countries express their frustrations about the state of negotiations. African delegates staged a several-hour boycott to push developed nations to ensure an extension of the Kyoto Protocol. As the Los Angeles Times‘ Jim Tankersley writes, the public conflicts are “one big optical illusion,” as “a few key negotiators have quietly and steadily hammered away at the obstacles to a deal.” Slow progress is being made on issues from reducing deforestation to shared commitments by major emitters, awaiting a final push by world leaders. In the Fossil of the Day ceremony, climate organizations criticized the United States and the European Union for their failure to commit to strong action and close loopholes.
Over the weekend, about 100,000 people from around the world participated in a festive and overwhelmingly peaceful march “” three people were charged for violent acts “” from the center of Copenhagen to the Bella Center, where the United Nations Climate Change Conference is taking place. On Sunday, Desmond Tutu and Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, led an ecumenical service as churches around the world rang their bells 350 times.
“You cannot cut a deal with Mother Nature,” Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said today, as the first head of state to arrive in Copenhagen, his small island nation in threat from the rising, warming, and acidifying seas.
Today is Oceans Day in Copenhagen, with a day-long symposium in downtown and several events in the Bella Center. Oceanographers Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and Rob Dunbar reported that current levels of carbon dioxide have already caused dangerous ocean acidification, coral bleaching and ice-sheet loss. Both agreed that the safe level of carbon dioxide concentrations for oceans and icecaps is well below current levels (390 ppm), let alone the 450 ppm target recommended in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
Brad Johnson is blogging from Copenhagen.