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Sunday, December 13, 2009

First impressions and status updates

I stepped out into the Copenhagen airport to the buzz of language and look of letters I could not make meaning of, struck by a feeling of curiosity of how and why pretty much for everything around me. It was a good feeling, curiosity is a good thing.

Copenhagen is clearly braced for this event, from all spectrums. The city is beautiful, a combination of modernity and antiquity. Upon arrival I linked up with Jacqui and Kalila, fellow travelers on the Movement Generation delegation, which includes folks from grassroots organizations primarily from Grassroots Global Justice and Right to the City Alliance. Gopal was ready when we arrived, giving us the most important information we needed to know – There are 100,000 marching in the streets heading to the bella center, with indigenous caucus at the head. Do you want to settle in or…do you wanna go!? You can imagine our answer.

So where are things at:

There are many issues at play, overall however the overarching debate seems to be whether or not the agreement coming out of Copenhagen is legally binding, or a revision and continuation of the Kyoto Protocols. The U.S. is pushing to kill the Kyoto Protocols, instead pushing a non-binding, and seemingly not specific or uniform commitment to reduce carbon emissions. Basically, they're saying - hey let's all go home and do what we can do and come back and talk about it again next year and share what we've done. That's right - despite the science, despite the fact that coming to this point most agree that something definitive and decisive must be done to avoid ecological disaster.

What's on the table is simply unacceptable for nations of the Global South. The President of the Maldives said he would not be willing to join in such a suicide pact. After details of a backroom deal being worked out, which included developed countries commiting to public financing 2010-201[2] to an average of [10 billion] annually to devleoping countries collectively, the President of the Pan African Global Climate Group shot back that this amount of money wouldn't even cover the costs for coffins for his people.

On another front, the forum is moving towards restricting access to the Bella Center on Tuesday, which is unprecedented in recent history. The majority of non-governmental participants will be excluded from the process. This exclusion of civil society may prove to be a pressure point towards action as the week goes on. There are a tremendous amount of issues at play with the goal of consensus, it is looking like an agreement is unlikely. Just today, it was announced that negotiations were suspended when nations of the Global South withdrew. The key question unfolding is - who gets to frame the outcome or lack of one?

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