It's 5:00 here in Copenhagen and many are feeling that Obama's "Messiah Moment" has come and gone. It's been more or less two years of stalemate in the UN climate negotiations, and in the 2 months following the Barcelona meeting, negotiations have only become more deadlocked.
The past two weeks have continued the same theme. And despite a flurry of promising announcements right before Copenhagen, we seem to be right back where we started -- wealthy nations pitted against the developing world.
Many in the developing world and the NGO's which support them were holding out for a last minute Obama-inspired "Hopenhagen." After all, he is the first U.S. president whose name is more or less synonymous with "hope." But that hope was officially dashed this morning. Both Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. John Kerry made it pretty clear on Thursday that Obama would not be introducing any wild cards on the last official day of COP15. And his speech this morning before the UN plenary confirmed that statement.
But that wasn't what really upset countries in the G77, in particular Africa, Latin America and the Island nations. It was the invite-only closed meeting of "friendly nations" led by Obama himself. See below for the list from a U.S. press official.*
In an ad hoc (and very impassioned) press conference held by both Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales this afternoon, the leaders of the socialist ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America) denounced the meeting. Paraphrasing a bit, Morales said.. 'How can an agreement which sentences the developing world to certain doom be considered friendly?'
Hugo Chavez called out President Obama on his statement "Now is the time to act." He said Obama needs to act by finally signing the Kyoto Protocol as a first step on the road to a global, legally binding agreement on climate change. He also called on Obama to divert some of the billions going to "kill people" in Iraq and Afghanistan to help "save people" from the impacts of CO2 pollution emitted by the U.S.
Lastly Evo Morales called for a UN tribunal to be formed that will allow those who do not comply with their agreements to be tried for "climate crimes."
High-level negotiations continue. Obama is still on site and in his second closed door meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, and it is here that the world's two largest carbon polluters are duking it out. Chinese has refused to submit to MMV (measurement, monitoring and verification) and the U.S. has stated they will pull out if the Chinese (along with al 192 parties) don't agree to a uniform method of carbon-accounting.
The U.N. has (as of a few minutes ago) officially extended the COP through Saturday, and Obama has agreed to extend his stay to get an operational deal in place. So though many are calling Obama's speech a "flop" it may prove to be just the beginning of Act III here at the Copenhagen climate talks.
*Here's the list of nations in the closed door meeting this morning:
- Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
- United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown
- French President Nicolas Sarkozy
- Danish Prime Minister Lars L. Rasmussen
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel
- European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
- Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
- Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei
- Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
- Bangladesh Prime Minister
- Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva
- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
- Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
- South African President Jacob Zuma
- Mexican President Felipe Calderon
- Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak
- Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg
- Colombian President Alvaro Uribe