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December 14th 2009 print

Tim Wilson

COP15: Day 7

Considering the religious fervour that many climate evangelists bring to the issue Sunday is, appropriately, an official day of rest.

Considering the religious fervour that many climate evangelists bring to the issue Sunday is, appropriately, an official day of rest.

But at the Copenhagen climate change conference that only means negotiators turn up to the Bella Conference Centre at ten and the arrested activists from Saturday’s protests can sleep in a bit longer in their cells.

The events of Saturday’s protests are still dominating the media coverage with increasing criticism that the Police behaved in a heavy-handed way.

The folks from left-wing activist group, GetUp!, allegedly have video showing the Danish Police being overly aggressive and charging the protestors. They may be right, but if I were a GetUp! donor I’d want to know why the activists I’d paid to go to Copenhagen were warm and rugged up in their hotel suite videoing the protest, rather than being on the frontline.

Meanwhile consistent reports are that the actual negotiations are going nowhere and emissions verification is proving to be a key stumbling block.

Because governments can so easily report compliance with their emissions targets, but actually just let emissions grow to help improve the competitive position of domestic industries, developed countries want emissions reductions externally verified.

Considering many developing countries don’t have the technical or regulatory capacity to verify their own emissions it may not seem to be an unreasonable ask, but major developing countries like China and India also understandably don’t like the bad faith injected into verification requirements.

There is a lot of bad faith in negotiations because some developing countries approach negotiations with a North / South perspective that developed countries have been out on an all night bender, and developing countries are now being asked to pay part of the bill.

As a consequence bad proposals are being put into negotiating texts like the scrapping of intellectual property rights on climate-friendly technologies by a motley crew of negotiators from Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ghana and India.

The fact that removing IP will simply harm climate-friendly technology innovation and reduce access to the technologies to reduce emissions doesn’t’ seem to matter, because from a North / South perspective scrapping IP is about making sure developed country businesses cannot profit from developing country emissions reductions.

However there would be one thing that would bring China to the table and it’s the same central key to unlocking a final Copenhagen agreement – money.

For developing countries they want a big adaptation finance pool that will be funded by rich countries, and the size of that pool will dictate the level of emissions reduction they’re prepared to commit to.

For developed countries the negotiations are about how much they have to give to that adaptation financing pool, and how much they’ll have to harm their economies and their competitive advantage against developing countries through emissions reduction as well.

That is, of course, except for Europe because it has already started absorbing the cost of emission reduction and wants everyone else to take on the burden so they can stop shooting themselves in the foot.

Tim Wilson is Director of the Climate and Trade Unit at the Institute of Public Affairs and is blogging from Copenhagen at www.sustainabledev.org

See Tim Wilson’s previous reports:

COP15: Opening Ceremony

COP15: Day 2

COP15: Day 3

COP15: Day 4

COP15: Day 5

COP15: Day 6