Dec 182009

Did the dam break? Between Japan’s announcement it was providing a new aid package for short term climate mitigation that, on paper, brings the total amount of commitments to $30 billion by 2012, and the U.S. announcement that it will work with other nations to provide 100 billion dollars annually by 2020 for climate change adaptation, developed nations and the UN were putting on a happier public on COP15 than they were 24 hours ago. Negotiations are expected to go all night, and nobody is thinking about leaving either the press room or the hall itself before negotiators finally stumble to the finish line with some sort of a deal.

And make no mistake. Something “positive” will emerge from COP15 that 120-odd world leaders will agree to, at least while they are smiling for the TV cameras and offering flowery speeches to the print journalists. Whether what is agreed to will have any basis in sound climate science or just plain common sense is another matter.  This, after all, a political agreement designed to tide everyone over until a follow-up conference can be arranged sometime next year.

One bright spot of the conference, where there is broad agreement between the U.N. members and the NGOs, is technology and the role of technology in mitigating climate change.   This area has received virtually no coverage in the press, preoccupied as we are with the contentious politics and violent protests that have marked the Copenhagen conference. And, of course, much of the rhetoric is just that, and merely confirms in writing the obvious: environmental technology transfers to developing countries to mitigate climate change are accelerating and will continue to do so. But perhaps such transfers will soon have a bit more international legal protection under the U.N. if Copenhagen ever goes from a political agreement to a legally binding treaty.

We’ll have a better sense of that possibility sometime between, we hope, the next 12 and 16 hours.

Eric Johnston is covering COP15 and will occassionally blog during the conference. For the latest news from the conference, please support quality journalism by buying The Japan Times or visiting our Website at

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