It’s the last day on the strange and in some ways amazing multinational spaceship that is Copenhagen’s Bella Center. Or at least so we think—a US delegate grabbing a coffee warned me it may go on until Sunday.
But then she also asked me if I’d heard how things were going––an unusual, and perturbing, thing for a US delegate to ask a journalist.
In his latest speech the Brazilian leader, Lula, said the negotiations had reminded him of his youth as a union leader—arguing with the management until two in the morning. It didn’t seem to be a fond memory.Indeed I hear the Brazilian negotiators are now refusing to agree the text for a reform of carbon trading unless there is nothing in it to keep their leaders awake arguing.
Nobody has now slept properly for days. “I have to sleep tonight,” said an Indian wire journalist, “but I can’t until the negotiators do—they must sleep, it’s not possible they can go another night without sleep”. If we reach a deal it will be one borne as much out of insomnia as the imperative to save the planet.
Nothing is certain now except that the process has broken down. Some—such as Barak Obama—are want to blame the rules. Others blame Barak Obama. “There is no real difference between the US position now, and under Bush”, one eastern European negotiator told me.
In place of the formal process leaders gather in groups to thrash out some kind of agreement – though with protocol increasingly abandoned few know what it is they are trying to agree on or whether everyone will sign up. If they do it will be a deal of pragmatic haste, not the end of the process worked on for years.
Earlier in the week I met NGO workers handing out red mittens to people they met. The mittens were for those whose hands “could change the world” – a concept so corny it could only have arisen at this moment.
If a deal isn’t reached, the passion, work and sheer restless determination of the forty thousand delegates and millions of supporters will probably be forgotten. At the risk of sounding trite, it must not be. It may…