Copenhagen: Day 9

The Backsliding Battle of Brackets

Share this article

Negotiators made scant progress Wednesday toward a global climate treaty that any nation, large or small, could agree to. In fact, after two years of work and nearly two weeks of intense negotiations, they backslid, officials from Oxfam, WWF and Greenpeace said.

“The meeting fell into disarray and they put brackets around the text, which means the whole thing is under question,” said Oxfam Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs.

While U.S. negotiators tied up the talks with wrangling over technical points inside the Bella Center, an estimated 4,000 protesters outside called for progress from the conference and tried to push their way in. Security was tighter with heads of state arriving, and space constraints meant fewer activists and NGOs were allowed inside.

Still undecided and crucial to a global deal is long-term financing. As Kumi Naidoo, the new executive director of Greenpeace International, explained: To expect developing countries to sign onto a treaty without money “would be like asking developing countries to jump off an airplane and saying, don’t worry, halfway down someone will give you a parachute.”

Besides, he said, it’s in the developed world’s own best interest to help out now. The cost will only get worse the longer action is delayed.

“The science says we must, technology says we can, and political leaders over the next 24- 48 hours must say they will deliver a fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty,” Naidoo said.

The Climate Action Network, a global group of about 500 non-governmental organizations promoting worldwide action to limit climate change, talked to NGO leaders involved in the climate talks for the daily video overview of the conference’s progress, above.