The First Day: Copenhagen Summit Day One

This conference is absolutely packed. And next week we are expecting even more people! There is some alarm starting to bubble up about just how everyone who wants come is going to fit in!

The conference is in many ways similar to a huge Labour Party Conference. It's hot, the food is awful, there is the main official agenda, a series of extraordinary fringe meetings and lots of stunts/media events.

Only this conference is more intense, focused as it is on one issue and the delegates are of course from all over the world.

Nearly all the conversations are in English and you find yourself getting drawn into debates everywhere with complete strangers. I had an involved conversation about CCS in the queue for the ladies (yes queues for the ladies are a universal experience!)


I have just been to a meeting organised by the Adaptation Fund. It's pretty embryonic at the moment, but it aims to fund projects to help small countries and Pacific islands adapt to climate change. It was established at Bali and resources are currently pretty limited. As the chair said, " it is a pleasure to welcome so many people (there were about 600 of us) to a meeting looking at a such a small fund"

But the negotiations here are about the future of organizations like these and may result in their massive expansion.

The discussions about how the fund will be managed highlighted many of the issues.

I sat next to Rachel van der Kooge, a journalist from Suriname. She asked a humdinger "Who would be able to apply for the funds? Will it be government, NGOs or community organisations? How about fishermen directly affected by climate change? And if it is governments who apply on their behalf, how will you ensure that the fishermen will benefit properly?"

There were others:

"When is an adaptation project an adaptation project and when is it a development project? And what happens when it is both?"

"Are all water projects adaptation projects these days?"

"How tightly will the fund monitor the projects? If it spreads best practice and gets value for money, will it be able to balance this with being sensitive to local need?"

"All very good questions" said the chair, "that we will endeavor to get the right answers in the next year as we begin commissioning".

But I'd met an Australian, Dr Robert Kay, who'd been working with atolls in the Pacific on adaptation to climate change. I asked him "what project would one of your atolls buy with a $1m one-off payments, soon available from the fund?"

Not much.

So I'm now off to a meeting about we can develop carbon markets and fund development and adaptation.

Walking through the Exhibition Hall

I heard a heck of a kerfuffle, pushing through the crowds I saw that the fuss was about Canada. It was being awarded the "casket of shame" for being the Fossil of the Day.

Collecting the award, David Miller, the Mayor of Toronto, said he was ashamed of the fact that Canada was now the main obstacle to an agreement to a deal at Copenhagen.

And that Canada's cities disagee with their government. Canada's chief negotiator insisted in a briefing Friday morning that his country's target of -3% below 1990 levels are based on science. To the surprise of pretty well everyone - particularly IPCC scientists!
13 December 2009, 13:54:11

Another difference between Copenhagen and Labour Party conference is that so many people carry laptops. And when there are no seats left, everyone young and old, suited or not, sit on the floor and start making notes on their computers. This is fine but makes meetings very difficult to get into if you don't get to the popular ones early

The meeting on carbon trading and development was one such. It was so full, I couldn't get in straight away!

When I eventually could - tailgating one of the speakers who was arriving late- I was somewhat surprised to see a photo of my colleague the lovely Mark Lazarowicz MP staring down at me from the screen. The speaking was raving (albeit in a Northern European technocrat way)about his report on expanding carbon trading. The speaker was recommending to delegates they look it up on the DECC website!

His presentation was pretty dense, but very interesting. He said he would send me a copy of it. When he does, I'll put it up.

I met a polar bear in the hall, who told me if we save polar bears, we'll save the world. He then proceeded to be interviewed for TV. I took his photo.

I had coffee with an American from one of the central states who told me of the deep suspicion felt by many Americans of International agreements and indeed the UN. Many people, he said, believe that the proposed international agreements on Climate Change are nothing less than an international conspiracy to undermine America's economy. It all smacks of European style socialism in their minds. Obama is very boxed in, he said.

Woke slightly disorientated- my usual alarm doesn't seem to working: no child bouncing on the bed, no teenager asking for money? No, the peace of a hotel room, company courtesy of BBC World.


The view from my window very different in morning

River, swans, swirly church towers, bicycles, windturbines in a line across the horizon. There's also a power station with unabated emissions and an eight lane road. Says it all really: the value and benefits of moving to a low carbon economy and the challenges!

The EU summit has been going through the night. They are hammering out a deal on how to put together a package of aid to help developing countries combate climate change. But they haven't got there yet.

O.K. - am off to The Bella Centre. Hope they have pickled herring in a bun at the station!

Copenhagen

I’ve just arrived in Copenhagen as part of GLOBE’s cross-party team of MPs from the national parliaments of the G8, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa.

I’m out here to help the Ministerial team from the Department of Energy & Climate Change who’ll be busy in negotiations over the next week.

We also know that after Copenhagen, MPs from around the world have got to keep up the pressure to make sure the deal gets implemented in individual countries.

So I’m speaking to MPs from different countries about what we all do next after Copenhagen – I’ve got a meeting next week with socialist and social democratic MPs from European states, who I hope will all club together to keep up the pressure.


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