While much of the rest of the world was preparing for the weekend then kicking up its collective heels, the Copenhagen climate summit continued its steady growth in intensity, which will culminate next Friday with the arrival of world leaders.
We've been following COP15, as the conference is called, with regular updates on the action. There has already been plenty, although it can be summarized pretty quickly: the two major players have turned out to be the United States and China, both of which are jockeying for position while developing countries call for funding and small island nations warn that if everyone doesn't speed up the process, they'll be sunk.
China's growing power is the sticking point for many, as explained by the Wall Street Journal:
Even if China achieves that carbon-intensity cut, the country's total emissions still would surge more than 75% above the 2005 level by 2020, studies project. Michael Levi, a senior fellow specializing in energy and climate change at the Council on Foreign Relations, says studies by the IEA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Chinese government all suggest China was on track to achieve a reduction in carbon intensity in the range of 40% to 45% even before its recent announcement.For everyone else, the U.S. is the villain. The difference between the two is that China's centralized leadership gives it the ability to maneuver and change its commitments (more on that below). The U.S., by contrast, is hobbled by what is politically practical to pass, which leaves only a limited range of action.
Here's the news:
Beijing prepares to drop its funding demand (Financial Times)
The Chinese government will likely back out of the group of developing countries demanding financial assistance, as well as pursuing higher reductions in carbon intensity.
Developing countries demand payments for action (Bloomberg)
Poorer countries (besides China; see next link) say that they won't join a global deal unless developed countries agree to financing and technology transfers.
U.S. to reveal cleantech funding plan for poor nations (Washington Post)
It's not what the developing countries are asking for, but the U.S. may announce a plan Monday to give $350 million in funding for clean technology appliances and development.
Business searches for place at the table at Copenhagen (Reuters)
Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers says that businesses feel left out of Copenhagen, with little influence over negotiations.
Almost 1,000 climate protestors detained (CBC News)
Police arrested members of a much larger march, whose numbers were estimated at 25,000 to 10,000.
"...these are not positive awards for good and constructive behavior, but so-called 'fossil awards' given to the countries that most impede progress at Copenhagen by the environmental organization, Climate Action Network (CAN)... Today, the mayor of Toronto, David Miller accepted Canada's many awards--termed the 'casket of shame'--with the statement, "I'm embarrassed to be Canadian".
The Cuban leader says that Copenhagen is a failure, and Latin American leaders should work on tackling climate change on their own.
What's the baseline, Kenneth? (WSJ Environmental Capital)
Negotiating countries are bandying about different "baseline" years to cut emissions against in an effort to assume less responsibility.