Copenhagen Climate Conference

The final day for the EurActiv / Blogactiv team coincides with the planned final day of the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

For me, the day was dominated by three main themes.

Firstly, posturing. There were so many leaders on show that all needed to spread their wings and be a part of a global spectacle. In my mind, I see this as similar to bison or gorillas charging at mating time. Alpha-males, one and all, that need to puff out their chests, strut and be a part of the event.

This will sound harsh, but almost all of the addresses that I heard – perhaps 15 or so – could have been written by the same writer. “Climate change is real”, “it must be addressed”, “action is required”, “it will cost lots of money” and “I’m not the one with the money”. Only a few of these were meaningful, though some (Lula from Brazil, Chavez from Venzuela and Morales from Bolivia come to mind) were more colourful than others.

Very few of their speeches appeared to further the negotiation process or their own public position, suggesting that a desire to be in the spotlight drove much of this part of the event.

Secondly, tiredness. As this event has worn on, many in the Bella Center have been pushed to their limits. Firstly, wherever you are, you are waiting. Secondly, most of us are not used to such cold weather. I feel especially sorry for delegates that have arrived from Africa and stepped off a plane and into a -5 degree snowstorm. Add in the long days, poor diet, high requirement for mental focus and what you see around you in many places looks like this:

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Thirdly, Obama. I have written elsewhere that I feel he has politiked rather than negotiated. But like him or loathe him (and after GW Bush I think we mostly like him), his presence really got the conference moving. It is just such a shame that between he and Mrs Clinton, they had to wait until the last days to do it.

His attendance added glamour and urgency that it lacked previously. Of course, there were so many leaders for the final day that they could have all added that glamour – he is just the brightest star in the galaxy that is ‘head of government’.

For my part, I did see him in the flesh. It was a fleeting moment. I had become trapped while waiting for something else and (in truth) I was a little confused about where I had planned to be. The Bella Center is truly massive and it is easy to be in the wrong place. When someone says, “next to a conference room”, that is like saying, “he’s in Luxembourg”. The other journalists at the scene were all looking to the left towards a corridor where EU leaders were apparently meeting. Suddenly, from the right appeared President Obama. It was all over so quickly that I didn’t manage to switch on the mic…

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And that was that. He was asked, “Mr President, are you hopeful for a deal?” to which he replied, “I’m always hopeful!” The audacity of the man!

And then he was gone.

Most of the rest of the day – all that time in between – was spent waiting and writing. Having taken so long for a deal to not emerge, very few felt that a deal would suddenly be struck, especially since America’s position was akin to ‘here we are, come to us’. Not exactly what the rest of the world was hoping for…

With a 09.00 return flight for us, we had to head home after midnight. It meant that we missed the real wrangling over a deal, but that was still ongoing many hours later.

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