Sharan Burrow: Diary from Copenhagen 17.12.09

While it's snowing outside, the temperature is definitely warming up inside the Bella Centre as the leaders begin to arrive in Copenhagen.

Overnight there were some developments that set the scene for more serious engagement.

China declared it would not seek access to global climate funds being negotiated for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. Following this announcement, Ethiopia put out a joint statement with France framing a possible deal to settle the climate financing issue.

Repeated on behalf of Africa in the Plenary, Ethiopia put the makings of a deal on the table – fast track financing of $10 billion dollars by 2012, $50 billion a year by 2015 and $100 billion a year by 2020.

If this is taken seriously by the wealthy nations of the world it could pave the way for a breakthrough. The funding base would be multi-layered with the potential for a levy on global shipping and aviation raising a global fund added to by other dollars from both the public and private sectors.  

While this doesn’t satisfy more ambitious aspirations by some countries it opens the way to a compromise that is certainly affordable. If there's a compromise then a basic confidence will emerge in developing nations that the commitment of developed countries is more than words.

Of course the other big issues remain – targets, transparency of reporting, verification of commitments and the legal framework. None of this is settled and there are still arguments about the authority of the chair to
propose compromise text - arguments that would make ‘Yes Minister’ seem rational!

Nevertheless there is still a sense of imperative and the weather is an incentive to stay with the game inside.

Our Prime Minister, exercising his diplomatic skills, is hard at work. His briefing of stakeholders has been realistic about the challenges but optimistic about the path through the deadlock if the political will can be
generated.

Meanwhile, any positive positioning from business is so far absent. We hear the voices of the mining and energy companies raising objections, expressing concerns about everything from the legal framework to spurious issues of loss of competitiveness from a global deal on an aviation and shipping levy. There are no voices from the business community raised in support of an ambitious outcome. Sad but true.

And from here in Europe, it looks like Tony Abbott and the Liberal  Party would rather the negotiations fail or at best be limited to an ineffective set of commitments.

There appears to be little concern, despite soaring temperatures at home, for the environment our children and grandchildren will inherit and a total lack of commitment to ensure Australian business will
be competitive in a changing world.

Thankfully, Tony Abbott is not in charge of Australia’s negotiating team.

More from Sharan Burrow's Diary from Copenhagen
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