On the second day in Copenhagen, negotiators got down to work on text (at least in most areas. In some rooms, the discussions still dragged on about which text should be worked on. But overall, there is a serious mood of engagement. The big question on everyone’s mind is where the overarching decision text will come from. Many texts have been floating around, including one from the Danish Prime Minister’s office. Yesterday it leaked on the web-site of the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/08/copenhagen-climate-change. Many delegates and groups now have texts to respond to this ‘unseen’ Danish text in their back-pockets. The small islanders are expected to table a legal treaty, perhaps on Wednesday.
While all this is going on, an interesting development in the US. The US-EPA formally declared on Monday that CO2 and other greenhouse gases are a threat to human health and welfare. The implication is that the Executive – President Obama and the White House – could now move without congress to regulate emissions. Whether they will actually do so remains a political calculation – how much political capital to spend on climate. But it does mean a significant stick to shake at the Senate – if they don’t pass legislation to accompany the cap-and-trade bill from the House, the White House might find itself in a position where it must move – or give up its claims to leadership on this issue.