The “Danish Treaty” scandal that erupted Tuesday night continues to reverberate throughout the press room, with journalists from around the world calling it a “game changer,” ”the death blow” to the COP15 conference that may yet still lead to a walkout.
The real problem is that negotiations in Copenhagen began after months of stalemate and, as Yvo de Boer, the UN’s top climate change expert told reporters, after previous meetings in Barcelona, Bangkok and Bonn, which were supposed overcome the main differences between developed and developing countries, ended up with little or no progress and a lot of work to do in very little time. By all accounts, the Danes, anxious to secure a deal, put forward what they hoped was a reasonable proposal. Some of those in the developing world now expressing shock and outrage were in the room, according to de Boer, when the proposal was discussed and, apparently, didn’t raise loud protests at the time.
But that was then. With thousands of NGOs and protestors already here and thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, expected next week, the leaked text offered developing countries a chance to vent their frustration, NGOs a chance to mobilize, and journalists a chance to write about something other than the inner workings of the byzantine procedures that govern all UN meetings.
It is hard to say at this point whether or not the Danish Treaty incident will be forgotten once the world’s senior ministers arrive this weekend and begin the final negotiations on whatever agreement is to be reached by world leaders on Dec. 18, or whether or not developing countries will continue to use it as a bargaining chip. But it’s important to remember that the proposal, which suggested developing countries might agree to certain numbers regarding emissions reductions’ targets, was never a formal one and is now dead in the water. Hard compromises lie ahead for both developed and developing countries, and as negotiations continue against growing international pressure to forge an agreement, the level of intensity and emotion in and out of the negotiating sessions is also rising.
The road to Copenhagen has been long and filled with potholes, and it seems there will be more than a few bumps before we finally reach the end.
NOTE: Eric Johnston is covering COP15 and will blog the conference as often as possible. For the latest news and information, buy The Japan Times or visit The Japan Times Online.