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Copenhagen (COP15)

December's Copenhagen Climate Conference was a critical and controversial moment in our struggle to contain man-made global warming. The conference is over, ending in a non-binding international agreement and leaving many key issues unresolved. To learn more about what happened in Copenhagen, check out our Copenhagen blog (on this group page), featuring posts written by our on-the-ground team of bloggers. Bill Becker is the Executive Director of the U.S. Presidential Climate Action Project, Saleem Ali is a professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont, and Yuill Herbert is a member of Canada's Nova Scotian delegation. All three blogged for Solutions from the Copenhagen Climate Conference, adding their unique perspectives to the discussion. Please join Solutions as we continue to explore Copenhagen's role in shaping our world.

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Including All Voices in the Solution

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I was very lucky to serve as the Climate Correspondent for Sea Change Radio (http://www.cchange.net/tag/climate-change/) at COP15. I witnessed firsthand the initial confidence felt by everyone attending the meeting. We were sure that the voices of the global community had been heard, and that our leaders would act to ensure the safety of island and desert nations as they considered what to include in a global treaty. The frustration was palpable as we watched the U.S.

COP 15: Accepting Responsibility

Imagine you’re a well-to-do person attending a dinner of your peers. The food is top-rate and there’s plenty of it. Course after course is laid upon the table.

A group of less-advantaged people has been watching from the sidelines. When the dinner is done, you invite them to join you at the table. After the restaurant staff has served coffee, the bill comes. You and your rich peers insist that everyone now at the table must share in paying the entire bill.

After Copenhagen, What Now?

After two weeks observing the climate negotiations in Copenhagen, I’ve taken my time reacting to the outcome. There has been a great deal to digest. But as the dust begins to settle, it’s clear Copenhagen has spawned two principal conversations around the world.

The first is a post-mortem on what happened, or didn’t happen, at COP-15, the long-anticipated United Nations 15th Conference of the Parties. The second conversation is asking “What now?”.

Rumours, Chaos and More Chaos.

Connie Hedegaard, the Danish Minister of Climate Change, resigned as the President of the COP meetings and was replaced by the Danish Prime Minister. The official line was that because negotiations are now at a head of state level, the president needed to be a head of state as well. But rumours were floating around that Connie disagreed with the approach being taken by developed countries; however, she insists she continues to facilitate informal negotiations.

Update from the Negotiations

Negotiations have resumed- it turned out the Group of 77 was opposing an effort to not renew the Kyoto Protocol, a result that would leave the world without a legal framework post 2012. The Guardian reports that a series of informal meetings have led to an agreement to present leaders with two texts, one of which will result in a second period commitment period for Kyoto.

Difficult Times and High Drama

The prospects of a deal dimmed somewhat this morning. The Group of 77 countries have walked out of all the negotiating meetings, causing a further suspension in talks. They are unhappy that a group of 40 ministers from wealthy countries met privately all day Sunday to hash out a way forward and that the texts are not sufficiently ambitious. Reports of responses from the negotiating rooms to this action this morning indicate a high level of frustration. I am currently in the Plenary Room and the negotiating teams from all the countries are standing in small groups talking animatedly.

Week Two: The VIP Surge

COPENHAGEN- Week One has now passed at the United Nation’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP-15) in Copenhagen. Week Two begins with a surge of international VIPs and lots of uncertainty about the outcome of the two-week negotiation.

The United Nations published its list Saturday of the high-level dignitaries about to converge on Copenhagen. Each will be granted three or four minutes in front of the world assembly to state his or her nation’s position on a global climate deal.

Polarization: Chu versus Shiva

The mood in Copenhagen after the arrests of almost 400 people was a bit more polarized today. There were no official events at the United Nations Forum on Sunday but plenty of activity around town. I went to the industry event called "Bright Green" -- a forum on technological solutions to climate change and also to the activist's shadow forum called Klimaforum.

New Signals from the White House

President Barack Obama’s latest announcement on his trip to Copenhagen demonstrates two things. First, he’s listening to the environmental community. Second, he and his advisors need to pay much closer attention to the politics and sensitivities of global climate change as representatives of 192 nations gather in Copenhagen over the next two weeks.

Sub-National Solutions

Copenhagen Observations:

Saboteurs at Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN – With the announcement that a delegation from the Congressional Republican Flat Earth Caucus will show up to embarrass President Obama in Copenhagen next week, we hope the White House finally decides to man-up on climate change.

What manning up means in the present context is that the Obama Administration must get serious about using its regulatory authority to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions well below the levels being considered on Capitol Hill.

Getting Aggressive on Climate Action

The greenhouse gas emission cuts advocated by the Mikhail Gorbachev’s Climate Change Task Force (CCTF) are aggressive – a stabilization of emissions in five years, a reduction of 45-50 percent in the next 10 years and a virtually carbon-free global economy by mid-century.

Those goals are in line with the cuts leading climate scientists say are necessary to avoid the worst consequences of global warming, but they are far ahead of the reductions being proposed so far by major polluters such as the United States and Europe.

Update from the Negotiations

Negotiations in the plenary are at a stalemate due to procedural issues both in the two negotiating tracks; under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Tuvalu and the Association of the Small Islands States have insisted that their proposal to create a legally binding agreement here be considered in an open discussion, whereas other countries such as EU and Japan favour informal consultations by the President of the conference. Today, the President is conducting informal discussions with all parties to attempt to resolve this deadlock.

Conference of Surprises

Most diplomatic affairs at the international level are carefully scripted and choreographed under the principle of “no surprises”.

That is not the case in Copenhagen at the international negotiations on global climate change. By only the third day in the two-week conference, there were several surprises and promises of more.

In Copenhagen

Setting the context

Tuvalu takes a stand, again.

Again today, Tuvalu has caused a deadlock in the plenary discussion, and many countries have supported their demand for a substantive discussion on a legally binding convention to be signed at this meeting. The deadlock is between Group of 77 countries which traditionally vote as a block because Tuvalu's proposal opens the door to discussing legally binding commitments for southern countries as well as northern countries, in addition to more significant reductions for industrialised countries.

Adopt a Negotiator

Tracking climate negotiators on the road to Copenhagen: http://adoptanegotiator.org/

Grist's list of Copenhagen power players

Grist's list of 15 people to watch at Copenhagen: click here to read more.

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