D-Day in Copenhagen … Part II: More news – and it’s not good

To read Part I, please click here.

Spirits are rather low here this evening.

America and China produce over 50% of the world’s carbon emissions: any deal here tonight will require them to play ball. Unfortunately, there appears to be stalemate.

Fiona Hall MEP and George Lyon MEP at the Copenhagen Climate Conference

Fiona Hall MEP and George Lyon MEP at the Copenhagen Climate Conference

Prior to today the Americans had shown us a bit of ankle, suggesting that they might come forward with an offer of more money and concrete commitments. Unfortunately that looks like it was all a bit of a tease. President Obama instead used his speech simply to assert that the US is ready to do a deal if China and others are prepared to be transparent.

Unfortunately China is refusing to budge. There’s a bit of a culture clash here as the Chinese perceive international monitoring of their efforts as “snooping” and a breach of sovereignty: or at least that is the reason they are giving for refusing to open up. That’s a terrible pity. China has to understand that economic development should go hand in hand with political maturity. It is in their own interests to play a full role in international affairs, including the fight against climate change. The same is true for other emerging major economies.

As for the EU, Barroso gave a downbeat speech before chairing an EU heads of government meeting this afternoon. I tried to sneak in – actually, I did sneak in! Barroso, Merkel and Sarkozy took their seats. Miliband stood in for Brown. I tried to look like part of the furniture. So far, so good. Then it became clear that the meeting was quite literally one plus one i.e. each minister had a seat around the table, with one seat behind for their member of staff. So the few of us left standing had to sidle out as nonchalantly as we could. Still, interesting to see how these things work.

A quick chat with Jon Snow and some journos from the Beeb – all quite sceptical about the outcome.

Just now I got a leaked “Copenhagen Accord” that the heads of government are trying to cobble together instead of a legal deal. It doesn’t look too promising at the moment – very light on specifics, big question marks on where the cash will come from, and no commitment from China to adopt measurable, verifiable and reportable practices. An exit strategy more than an agreement.

Is this going to be it? Even the leaders’ “family photograph” has been postponed indefinitely.

More to follow …

* Fiona Hall MEP is Leader of the Liberal Democrat European Parliamentary Party

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • “China has to understand that economic development should go hand in hand with political maturity”

    This is incredibly patronising. Furthermore who decided that “political maturity” meant allowing breaches of sovereignty?

  • Neil Bradbury 18th Dec '09 - 11:49pm

    Fiona – keep up the pressure. You are right, every country has to be transparent or the agreement won’t work. Opening up is not a breach of sovereignty.

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