Ministers start working – after a while

On Monday, Ministers started engaging in the negotiations under the guidance of the COP President, Danish Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard.  This is unusual – at a typical COP, Ministers come only for the last three days and spend most time making national statements and holding bi-lateral meetings.  Copenhagen is different.  A whole list of ‘crunch issues’ has been kicked from the negotiator level to that of Ministers. (For a sense of the issues, see earlier posting on Week 2).

This created some confusion, as the process sought to figure out what is done at political and technical levels.   There was also quite a bit of time spent on ensure that the issues under the Kyoto Protocol were not left out – pushed by Africa and with Latin American countries – the Bolivarian alliance – insisting strongly and keeping the plenary going for a long time.

Eventually negotiators started working around 7 pm, with most groups working well into the night – some into early morning and their faciliators right through. There is little movement yet – but the iterations between Ministers and officials needs to settle in. All is still possible, but so far there is not much substance in the deal.  Seasoned negotiators are still calling this ‘early days’.  The NGOs following the process are not as sanguine – it is already very late from the point of view of the climate.