Next 24 Hours Crucial in Copenhagen

BY Talea Miller  December 16, 2009 at 3:31 PM EDT

FROM COPENHAGEN: Among those looking for a productive end to the climate talks in Copenhagen Wednesday was the president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed.

Addressing the negotiators, Nasheed asked for some consensus leading into the final days of the summit.

“Very late last night, [and] early in the morning there was a text that was somewhat finalized but again [today] negotiators are unable to agree on this text,” he said. “I’m so sorry to say that come tomorrow heads of states will not have a draft text in front of them. We will be in trouble and we might not come up with an agreement in Copenhagen … that in my mind is totally unacceptable.”

Tom Brookes, managing director of the Energy Strategy Center at the European Climate Foundation, told the NewsHour that while informal ministerial level talks are now going on, “all of the major issues on the table” at the summit are yet to be resolved as of Wednesday evening, including finance, targets for mitigation, measurement of mitigation efforts in the developing world, and the future of the Kyoto Protocol.

“There is some progress in some areas, technology transfer has started to move, we’ve had the beginnings of the shape of an agreement on forestry … but a lot of the key issues are still at play,” he said.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was also in Copenhagen Wednesday, offering a slightly more positive perspective: “I have felt, in all the conversations I’ve had today, the makings of a deal are here,” he said.

He said emissions targets are circulating among major parties and that putting a financing mechanism in place is the next big hurdle. In his remarks, he stressed that short term financing is the most crucial for agreement, but that the United States should participate in discussion of longer term aid.

“My urging to President Obama and the administration is to be prepared to assist in the long term financing discussion when they come here,” he said.

U.N. head of the summit Yvo de Boer told reporters late in the day that the next 24 hours will be crucial if a successful agreement is to come from the summit. He pointed to progress on financing pledges from developed countries, as well as advances on deforestation, as bright spots in the negotiations but said there is still much that needs to be accomplished.

“We are still in the situation where a number of critical issues need to be resolved,” he said.

In response to questions about the Danish text circulated today that sparked public outcry by parties not included in its drafting, de Boer said that text was being used as a tool to make progress but that it was clear from the response that the “Danish text needs to be considered in the context of the documents that have already been prepared and into which people have already put in a great deal of energy.”

The parties “have a great attachment for the document that they themselves produced,” and they want that to be at the heart of what comes from Copenhagen, he said.

Editor’s Note: You can watch a report from our PBS colleagues at NOW about the impact of climate change on the Maldives here.