Climate Kabuki

I spent two days standing in the cold with thousands of people including members of the press, NGO leaders and delegates who were not able to get into the Bella Center venue due to terrible planning and coordination of security and registration.

My first day at COP15 was yesterday and spent most of the day getting organized for the two remaining days. Yesterday afternoon I attended Senator Kerry's Press conference where he declared that it was time for climate denier "science fiction" to step aside and make way for the science fact of climate change. He promised US climate legislation would be passed in the Spring… with the backstop assurance that if congress would not legislate, the EPA would regulate under the aegis of its recent endangerment ruling that determined CO2 was a pollutant.

I also attended yesterday's morning plenary where I saw the most recent act in the climate kabuki drama unfold as the G77 developing nations, China, Brazil, India and others insistently delayed the proceedings for over an hour in protest. Their complaint was aimed at the Danish move to introduce text that they had not been negotiated and joined with China demanding full Western compensation to poor countries for climate-related costs. Negotiations came to an abrupt and unexpected halt.

Other drama arose when NGOs were told that their numbers would be dramatically limited in the days ahead, and in protest hundreds now refuse to leave and staged a sit in. Outside the venue hundreds of NGO's barred from the talks were tear gassed and arrested by riot police after they unsuccessfully tried to storm the venue.

With over 118 heads of state due to arrive today and tomorrow tensions and frustrations are high. Even veteran observers of the highly ritualized displays at such summits are in a quandry as to how the next two days will unfold.

At a press briefing Wednesday evening Yvo de Boer, the UN's top climate official said “The cable car has made an unexpected stop,” referring to a statement he made on Monday. By then the conference was about half way up the mountain, everybody was queuing up for the cable car, and “the rest of the ride is going to be fast, smooth and relaxing”. Displaying his considerable gifts of understatement de Boer went on to say “It is still possible to reach a real success, but there are 'a number of unsolved issues' left for world leaders to resolve at their summit on Thursday and Friday.

More to follow.