High drama – leadership needed

As the climate negotiations brace themselves for the arrivals of Heads of State on Wednesday and Thursday, there was high drama as negotiators sought to conclude text to present to Presidents and Prime Ministers.   Negotiations in the Convention track went through the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Negotiators had given up hope of producing ‘clean’ text, i.e. agreement, already. What seemed possible was ‘bracketed’ text, meaning documents that clearly frame the options – and where the differences lie. The key one that this night were mitigation commitments by developed countries.  The only bit of text by which the US might take on a commitment had not been discussed. It went in and out of the text, with many procedural issues discussed in between. After a long night, the plenary meeting eventually opened at 5 a.m. and, after another round of insertions of other text, concluded just before 7  a.m. –  just an hour before many negotiators were to go to regional group consultations.

While this left many tempers frayed and the text looking messy, at least a document has emerged from the process driven by Parties.  These can now be considered by the many Ministers and growing numbers of leaders present.  What will be needed in the last three days will be leadership. If that is provided, anything is still possible.

As the banner on a Greenpeace boat in Copenhagen harbour says: “Politicians talk, leaders act”.