Saving Copenhagen, one deal at a time

Saving Copenhagen, one deal at a time


In a deal brokered by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Ethiopian Prime Minister and African Union climate negotiator (and for small island nations, it was assumed) Meles Zenawi said he would be willing to accept $100 billion (Rs4.68 trillion now) a year till 2020 from developed countries, to start with money, for adaptation and emission reductions from 2013 to reach $50 billion per year by 2015 and $100 billion by 2020. As protests started outside, Malawi implied Africa would not insist on government-to-government transfers, as it had been doing, settling instead for new methods such as sale of emission rights and carbon taxes.


In carefully framed language, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said—without giving details—that the US would “participate" in a “common global fund" of $100 billion per year by 2020 for the poorest countries. She also announced an extension of the US’ stated emission cut of 17% by 2020—offering 30% cut by 2025; 40% by 2040 and 80% by 2050, with a base year of 2005.

Many expected US President Barack Obama to save the summit with a surprise announcement. US senators and policy experts on Thursday warned there would be no grand Obama deviation from stated US policy.


Newsmakers: Lars Lokke Rasmussen (left) and Lumumba Di-Aping.

Wonder how the talks to save the earth played out? Here’s a glimpse—edited excerpts from the last 10 minutes of the closing meeting of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15). This exchange is between the chairman, Danish Premier Lars Lokke Rasmussen and Lumumba Di-Aping, a Sudanese diplomat who represents Africa:

Rasmussen: We’re in the final hours of COP-15. We have less than 36 hours to finalize our drafts and come to an agreement. (Looks around). There are no objections? We can close then. Oh, sorry, Sudan wants to say something, you have the floor.

Rasmussen: We have two tracks of negotiation going on, and I am asking my colleague Connie Hedegaard (Danish environment minister) to chair them on my behalf. Both groups will meet and we will only consider the texts when they finish.


Rasmussen: If there are no further observations...oh, Sudan, you have the floor.

Di-Aping: Mr Chairman, we have a process that has been going on for two years, people have been working...our preference is clearly for those chosen, those whom we trust, to take on the job at hand, they understand the complexities...unless you mean this is the group that will take on the job, we will disagree with you... I want a confirmation that this is the case, and equally a confirmation that consultation will result in two separate documents and only those will be put to the heads of states...

Rasmussen: I can confirm we are negotiating in (sic) two tracks. Connie will chair both groups in such a way that...everybody’s voice will be heard. Is that all right?

Di-Aping: I do believe that unless we hear clearly that the same chairs will be in charge, it will not be right. We must start with the Kyoto Protocol, or we must choose two co-chairs to lead the talks simultaneously.

Rasmussen: We will begin with the Kyoto text. Is that all right?

Sudan: Thank you.

Rasmussen: I remain deeply convinced that this is what the world expects and what science demands. I do believe we have identified the make or break issues. In the next 36 hours we will be joined by the most decisive decision-making powers, all our heads of state, the world has ever seen.


Mexico, which has already put out three climate change policy documents, on Thursday announced a unilateral 30% cut in emissions by 2020 and a green fund that business could access based on actual reductions. It was meant to set an example and push its big developing country cousins: India and China.


In a restrained, brief appeal, the prime minister of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu said back-room deals and deviations from established negotiations were going to doom his country—the world’s fourth smallest at 26 sq. km across eight islands and the first predicted to go under if the oceans rise due to global warming.

Prime minister Apisai Ielemia called Clinton’s announcement “handing out carrots" and said he was “gravely concerned" about how the meeting had been run by the West and larger developing countries. While these nations tried to do deals over holding global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, his nation had no choice but to hold the line at 1.5 degrees—something that larger countries will not consider because that would make an agreement even harder.