COPENHAGEN, DENMARK — Day Two in the Bella Center here shed some light on the power dynamics underlying the COP15 climate talks. The United States is clearly the country whose participation will be crucial to any significant deal, but at least one other player has captured the attention of the media: China.
An example from inside … most press conferences are sparsely attended, but when the People’s Republic unexpectedly moved its daily briefing to a much smaller room, yelling matches erupted at the door as some journalists were kept outside by the crowds.
(Quick story for loyal “Almanac” fans. When I got to the door, the guy next to me was screaming, “I’m from Getty Images! Let me in, damn it!” I walked up and said, “I’m from Twin Cities Public Television,” and was immediately ushered inside. Keep those pledge dollars coming.)
The China climate position is hard to miss. Developed countries (aka the United States) have a “historic responsibility” for climate change because they’re the ones who pumped the most carbon into the atmosphere over the last 200 years.
The summarizing phrase, repeated at least eight times, was, “shared but differentiated responsibilities.” Does that sound like “separate but equal” to anyone else but me?
Five days from now, the first round of negotiations will be concluded, and a delegation of ministers will arrive to refine the language for their respective heads of state. Only time will tell whether the rigid positions rolled out today will start to soften as the conference reaches its crescendo.