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Copenhagen's 2nd Week: Poor Nations Walk Out, Thousands Wait and Facebook Friends

The United Nations international climate summit in Copenhagen is well into its second week and already folks are worried the time will slip away before some kind of agreement -- even a framework -- is reached. Two major hurdles remain: how much will wealthy nations pony up to help poor countries deal with climae change? And what is the best policy approach? Hang onto the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding agreement on climate change or scrap it all for a new one?

The Kyoto Protocol issue is a sensitive one for poor, developing countries, which object to any efforts to scrap the 1997 treaty for a new one. Poor nations view Kyoto for what it is: the only legally binding agreement in existence. Scrap it and risk never reaching another agreement that places the same strict and legal requirements on countries to cut emissions.

On Monday, talks broke up within one of the two negotiating tracks at the summit after the African countries accused Denmark, the chair of the conference, of trying to kill the Kyoto Protocol, the Guardian reported. Other developing countries soon followed. Diplomatic scrambling ensued as ministers began to arrive in Copenhagen for the high-level political segment of the talks. Hours later, all was restored and the talks resumed.

The point of the summit is to come up with new treaty. The U.S. never ratified Kyoto and China never fell under the treaty either. So, it makes sense to develop a new agreement that involves the world's largest emitters. It all comes down to trust. Or the lack of it, between rich and poor nations.

The mob scene outside did not help quell feelings of uneasiness and mistrust inside the Bella Centre. The COP15's Bella Centre has capacity for some 15,000 people. More than 45,000 people have registered to attend. Translation: Thousands of people waiting outside the center in sub-freezing temps.

Onto the links:

Facebook friends at Copenhagen (Financial Times) Yup, it was only a matter of time before government officials began communicating through the social media network, Facebook.

U.S. unveils clean energy fund for poor nations (Grist) U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a new program to speed up the delivery of renewable energy technologies to developing countries. The $350 million clean energy fund set out a number of initiatives including a program to provide solar energy and LED lanterns to millions who lack access to electricity.

Gore's polar ice prediction falls short (Atlanta Constitution) Climate scientists' are hurting their cause by continuing to allow politicians be their spokesman.

Canada punk'd (Yes Men) Canada's "ambitious plan" to set binding emissions reduction targets of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 sounded remarkable and crazy. And that's because it was. The Yes Men once again punk'd Canada and some bloggers with a fake press release touting its new emissions reduction plan.

A delegate's perspective of poor countries (Green Inc.) Obed Bapela, a member of the South African parliament, talks about why poor nations are so frustrated with the climate summit.

All the drama, with none of the action (TNR's The Vine) The largest hurdles to reaching an agreement have been here for years. So, why all the drama?

Imagine: Countries taxed as temps rise (NYT) Economist Ross McKitrick tosses about a novel idea. Impose financial penalties on carbon emissions set according to the temperature in the earth's atmosphere.

Getting the word out (Ethiopian Review) A look at the dozens of tactics groups have used during the summit to spread their views.

Was the first week a waste of time? (FT's Energy Source) Read the responses from the FT's expert panel, which includes Lord Browne, former BP CEO and president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and Julian Morris of the The International Policy Network.

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