Hope for accord recedes

Hope for accord recedes

Chaos, protests mar climate talks on the eve of PMs visit to Copenhagen

Hope for accord recedes

But India questioned the Danish move even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh prepared to leave for Copenhagen.

Indian NGOs, including the Centre for Science and Environment, wondered why the prime minister should visit Copenhagen when there was no deal coming. They pointed out that even if a deal was finalised, it would be against the interests of developing nations.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh remained one of the few optimistic people here. “Things will be sorted out by tomorrow (Thursday),” he predicted, referring to the points of dispute between developed and developing countries that have been holding up climate agreement for many years.

“The prime minister is coming here, all international leaders are looking towards him to provide leadership and he will provide it,” Ramesh said. In contrast to this optimism, there was turmoil in the Danish capital throughout the day.

The Danish announcement was received with shock and anger by negotiators who criticised the “top-down” approach adopted by the host and raised objections with Denmark Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen.

There was confusion about various texts circulating in the conference and negotiators were wondering which was the official text. “We have been told by the Conference of Parties (COP) chair that a text has been prepared by the COP Presidency. On what basis,” asked India’s Environment Secretary Vijai Sharma. He demanded “inclusivity,” “transparency” and “the essence of multilateralism” in the talks.

Rasmussen took over as Chair of the 15th  COP from his ministerial colleague Connie Hedegaard who made way for her boss as heads of state and governments began arriving for the final leg of the 12-day talks.

Hedegaard said “two texts” had been prepared dealing with two tracks of the Kyoto Protocol and long term cooperative action (LCA). “I have not distributed the text so far,” Rasmussen said in response to several angry interjections.

“Your observations do not address the transparency of the process and the fate of the text on which we have been working till seven in the morning,” Sharma said. He said the negotiators wanted to protect their texts, and the actions had not been taken in good faith.

The overall climate negotiations are moving under two tracks—the first track is LCA under Bali Action Plan that requires parties to produce a legally binding treaty before the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

The Bella Centre, the venue of the talks, witnessed some dramatic moments as some protesters, chanting “Climate justice now,” rushed to the podium after a speech by Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade.

The second track is the extension of the Kyoto Protocol into the second commitment period from 2013 to 2018 where developed countries will have to take binding cuts.

Several delegates voiced concern that the “process” was constantly shifting from a “party driven” to a “top down” approach leading to text that had not been decided by the parties.

Playing with procedures

Others said it was playing with the procedures of how a COP is conducted. The negotiators had worked through the night in Copenhagen, but failed to resolve major disputes as world leaders began arriving in hopes of signing a deal by Friday. Several developed countries, including Australia, the European Union and the United States, accused that the G77 and China were slowing down the negotiations because of their insistence on “process.”