So now we are into the home straight, says Stewart Maginnis IUCN's Director for Environment and Development. As my colleague Ninni Ikkala reported yesterday while the High Level segment was underway the real negotiations continued apace in closed meetings and bilateral meetings. While the spectacularly aquamarine Caribbean is literally within one minute from the conference centre it might as well be a million miles away for the delegates who are now facing up to the prospect of a third all night session.
If you are hoping to glean some insight as to what is going to emerge then I am afraid I am going to have to disappoint you. The past few days have been a rollercoaster of both raised anticipation and declining expectations.
At this point in the Copenhagen COP, seasoned conference watchers knew there was little chance of a breakthrough when Premier Wen, President Obama and other Heads of State used the occasion to simply reiterate their countries’ opening position. This time it is much harder to “read the runes”.
Progress on some of the elements IUCN has been championing has been relatively good. The importance of Ecosystem-based Adaptation is becoming more widely recognized, REDD+ (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and forest Degradation) is inching towards conclusion and the importance of making sure that eventual climate solutions are gender sensitive and respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities is now underpinned by several relatively good references in the negotiation text.
However all this could come to naught if negotiations are unable to slice through the Gordian knot of interwoven challenges. This includes locking in the (still relatively weak) targets that countries informally associated with the Copenhagen Accord, clarity on and commitment to finance beyond 2012 and moving forward on measuring, reporting on and verifying actions that large-emitting G77 countries undertake voluntarily to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As I write it is now 16:00 and news has just come through that we are in for another long night. Meanwhile back at the hotel that has been home for the IUCN team over the past two weeks hotel staff are in the process of hanging up Christmas decorations. A good – if modest - Christmas present for the world would be a series of tangible, concrete decisions that would restore confidence in these negotiations and put us on course for a more comprehensive agreement next year in Durban.