Copenhagen Day 1: The start of the end?

07 December 2009 | News story

On the first day of the climate conference, Neville Ash, Head of IUCN's Ecosystem Management Programme, describes the atmosphere ahead of the talks.

Ever since the process to come up with a new climate deal was set in place in Bali in 2007, Copenhagen has been seen as the end of the road. The reality is that more time is needed to agree on a legally-binding climate deal but nonetheless, the Copenhagen meeting remains a critical point in the global climate negotiations.
 
In the last couple of weeks there has been much speculation on the outcomes of Copenhagen, and the more than 5,000 delegates standing in the cold misty Copenhagen air, waiting to register, have the task of making something historic out of the event. Over 18,000 people are expected to attend the conference, but looking around me on day 1, it’s clear that a majority are here for the side events, the lobbying and the sense of occasion.

Recent news from Australia where a draft climate bill was rejected and from the UK where emails stolen from a leading climate science unit have given a temporary focus for climate skeptics to lobby on. Certainly all the big issues remain on the table: by how much will both developed and developing countries reduce their emissions, and by when?, and how much money will developed countries provide to help developing countries reduce their emissions and adapt to climate changes already underway?

On the up side, the recent news that President Obama will be attending during the high-level segment next week, along with over 80 other heads of State, rather than just passing through on his way to pick up his Nobel Prize, suggests that discussions in recent high-level bilateral and other meetings have been fruitful. And that’s likely to be the nature of the next two weeks.