So Obama has finally arrived and is heading for a plenary meeting.
There will be many twists and turns before the end of the day – with talks of deals being on and deals being off, but if this conference is to succeed Obama holds the key.
But many do not seem that optimistic. Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden, whose country holds rotating EU presidency has just said: “There are deep differences in opinion and views on how we should solve this. We’ll try our best, until the last minutes of this conference.”
According to the NYT, Obama will use a combination of “muscle and charm” to secure a deal. Its boiling down to a food old-fashioned political dog-fight, with others now blaming the Chinese as the main stumbling block.
But whilst some delegates are saying that there is no final text for leaders to agree on, the Guardian has published a confidential UN analysis that seems to expose any deal as fatally flawed.
Although some developing nations have been trying arguing that the conference has to keep temperature rises to no more than 1 degree or 1.5 degrees, the Summit target is now said to be 2 degrees.
As Naomi Klein points out this morning – even a 2 degree increase in turn actually means much more in Africa. “The position of the G77 negotiating bloc, including African states, had been clear: a 2C increase in average global temperatures translates into a 3–3.5C increase in Africa. That means, according to the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, “an additional 55 million people could be at risk from hunger”, and “water stress could affect between 350 and 600 million more people”.”
However the Guardian alleges that the UN document shows cuts offered so would still lead to global temperatures rising by an average of 3C – which would mean even more catastrophic rises for Africa and the Arctic.
To put it bluntly a rise of 3C would leave 50% of species facing extinction.
The document was drafted by the UN secretariat running the Copenhagen summit and is dated 11pm on Tuesday night. It is marked “do not distribute” and “initial draft”. It shows a gap of up to 4.2 gigatonnes of carbon emissions between the present pledges and the required 2020 level of 44Gt, which is required to stay below a 2C rise. No higher offers have since been made.
“Unless the remaining gap of around 1.9-4.2Gt is closed and Annexe 1 parties [rich countries] commit themselves to strong action before and after 2020, global emissions will remain on an unsustainable pathway that could lead to concentrations equal or above 550 parts per million, with the related temperature rise around 3C,” it says.
And are we going to see even this flawed deal signed today? It does not look likely. Reuters has just flashed up “Draft text-supports “continuing negotiations” after Copenhagen to adopt one or more treaties no later than end 2010”
So it looks like global leaders are giving themselves another year to agree a deal that limits global temperature rise to 3 degrees. That is a year the planet doesn’t have and a rise we cannot live with.