COP15: what a mess

16 December 2009

What is happening in Copenhagen? These summits always have an air of desperation and frenzy, especially as the closing date approaches. A lot of it must be a weird dymanic that makes the eventual agreement possible. However, there seems to be a real danger that this meeting is going to implode within next two days.

Some may say that it is already falling apart with walk-outs and loud grumbles, only for a big bang to follow. Ms Connie Hedegaard, the Danish climate and energy minister, has resigned as president of the UN climate change summit. Mr Lars L√łkke Rasmussen, Denmark’s prime minister, took over the chair, only to be greeted by open hostility by a number of delegates.

It is premature and probably meaningless to blame someone or a country for the problems facing a conference yet to finish, but the Danish government and civil service have managed this meeting badly. Grounds were not prepared well, and the hosts have circulated drafts here and there, without taking into consideration the apprehensions and grievances of the developing and poor countries.

Fairly or unfairly, Denmark gave an impression that it was up to the developed countries to decide and then seek an agreement from the others, which the developing countries see as an imposition. Denmark seems to have underestimated the importance of states such as India, China, Brazil and South Africa, as well as the strength of feeling on the part of the poor nations.

Is it because a small country is playing a big role, rubbing shoulders with important states, and enjoying a rare power trip? Something is rotten in the state of Denmark?