Cometh the hour, the saying goes, cometh the man. But with just today and tomorrow to go in Copenhagen, the main man – the one who can make or break this Summit – President Obama, is not even here yet.
After years of international meetings – from Bali to Bangkok to Bonn – Obama will visit Copenhagen for just a day. So many people have warned of climate catastrophe and yet a boils down to the next couple of days.
In Obama’s absence, the Summit has descended into political bickering, with the British Prime Minster Gordon Brown seen as interim deal broker.
Brown held more than a dozen meetings with other world leaders, including Guyana, the Maldives, Trinidad and Tobago, Papua New Guinea, and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi.
But even his own Ministers are calling the Summit a farce, on “a knife edge and in grave danger”.
Brown’s Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband last night warned that the negotiations are so far behind schedule that it is a “farce”. “People will find it extraordinary that this conference that has been two years in the planning and involves 192 countries, which is such an important thing, such important stakes, is at the moment being stalled on points of order.”
He added: “If we fail, people all over the world will be furious and they will be right to be furious.”
Negotiators are now openly talking of failure. “We have made no progress” a source close to the talks told the Guardian. “What people don’t realise is that we are now not really ready for the leaders. ”
Time has essentially run out. As China’s Prime Minster arrives today, the country has let it be known that there is “virtually no possibility” that a deal will be signed tomorrow.
An official in the American delegation has told the NYT that China would “agree only to a brief political declaration that left unresolved virtually all the major issues. ”
If China is to sign something signficant the next move has to come from the US. Gordon Brown has said: “Leaders have to face up to big decisions and not postpone.” He has said he wants a fund of $100billion for developing countries and “expects the next big move to come from the US.”
So its up to Obama. When Obama turns up for the twilight of the conference he needs to offer more on cash for the developing world, and offer deeper emission cuts than America has already put on the table.
In return China might agree to a deal. They and the other developing countries might agree to an inspection regime to authenticate whether emissions have been reduced.
What Obama and the others cannot allow to happen is that no deal is reached now and that no date is agreed for when the final binding treaty is finalised.
We want a fair, ambitious and binding deal. And we want it now.