Friday, 11 December 2009

Feelings and facts

CI Head of Delegation at COP15, Rasmus Kjeldahl, reflects on the first week in Copenhagen.

The fight to stop global warming requires both feelings and facts.

Inside the Bella Centre (the venue for the Copenhagen climate change talks) these two incomparable characteristics meet in a sometimes chaotic process which is probably unsurpassed anywhere in the world.

Thousands of ardent NGO representatives from almost 900 grassroots organisations are attempting in a myriad of ways to formulate what problem should be solved. Some distribute low-key leaflets about the catastrophic consequences of climate change in a far corner of the world, others make street circus in the corridors of the Bella Centre with strolling trees and fabulous animals. All - like the supporters of Tuvalu's cause in the picture here - are attempting to call out to the world leaders that this time it is serious, that our future depends on a binding and ambitious deal.

Meanwhile just as many civil servants are negotiating long into the night in subgroups where wordings are turned over and over again and where the struggle is between a ’may’ or a ’shall’, and where even the definition of what ’shall’ means is a topic of discussion. New bodies are drawn up which, if adopted, will become a part of our world for many years to come. Should climate funding for the developing world be administered bilaterally, or should we establish a parallel to the World Bank with its own resources and global programmes? Will the Danish proposal on a global duty on ship fuel provide the funding needed? And what means of power are needed to make a deal binding in practice? This all needs to be in keeping with national constitutions and the very different decision-making processes around the world. Only very few people have an overview of all parts of the deal which will hopefully be made next week, and it seems like an almost insurmountable job to piece together a package which is so balanced that all 114 heads of state are prepared to accept it.

On day four the CI delegation made good progress with the task we have embarked on. We have achieved a reasonable overview of the most important negotiations. Through networks and meetings we have been in contact with the most important NGOs, and we have personally delivered a message to several negotiating delegations saying that the consumer organisations of the world must be involved in the further work to reach a deal. On Friday all country delegations will also receive a letter from us presenting the most important consumer issues which need attention. All this contributes to creating a platform for the further work to commit consumers worldwide to the climate issue.

In the days to come some members of the delegation will be replaced, which again may provide an opportunity to make new contacts. Follow the blog and see whether we succeed…

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