Copenhagen: A long, long night

This page in:
   Photo ©

The weather here is absolutely freezing cold, dark and grey.  Although Denmark is my home country, I think my many years in Africa and the Middle East have inoculated me in such a way that my system cannot really take this dreary weather. But it is pretty. There are Christmas lights everywhere and a cheery mood throughout the cityeven on the packed Metro in the morning.

So what is this COP 15 all about?  And why is it so hard? Getting 192 countries to agree on something is inevitably going to be pretty complicated. And once this involves serious compromises, technology, big bucks, and equity and lifestyle issues, it gets all the more difficult.

Developing countries want to see real emission targets, as well as financing, technology and a commitment to both the mitigation and the adaptation agenda. Poor countries do not want to have climate considerations put the brakes on growth or on access to energy, and they seek resources to help them protect their forests, which act as carbon sinks. Transitioning countries want to prioritize development, but without some sort of commitment on emissions, the overall agreement is unlikely to work.  And rich countries are concerned about the level of emission reductions they can commit to and what the impact will be on their economies. They are ready to put money on the table for developing countries, but the question remains whether these resources will be sufficient to seal the deal.

“Time is up. Deadline is now.” I just attended a lunchtime speech by Connie Hedegaard, the Danish Minister of Climate, who is also the president of the negotiations. She stressed in her speech that there is a reason why it has taken two years not to get an agreement. Every country is very good at stating its position. But now is the time for bold, brave compromises. Now is the time to make a deal. It will be nearly impossible to again create so much energy, to again engage millions of ordinary people around the world. So Minister Hedegaard urged the Ministers to be ready to compromise, and will urge all delegates similarly. She undertook to work hard to ensure that the deal is fair, enforceable and equitable.  But without compromises from all sides, there will be no deal.  She said that the negotiators have 24 hours. The 113 heads of state are arriving tomorrow.  Now is the time for the bold.

Tonight, there was the Welcoming Ceremony. Prince Charles and the Prince of Denmarkno, not the one from Hamletwere here, as were a host of other dignitaries.  They also screened an absolutely charming small film, “Save the world from climate change”. Tonight will be a very, very long night for the negotiators. Last night they closed at 3 a.m., but tonight could be an all-nighter, I expect. Send them wisdom, stamina, and courage.  I certainly do.


Inger @ Copenhagen COP15


Inger Andersen

Former Vice President, Middle East & North Africa

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000