COPENHAGEN, DENMARK — By Day Four at COP15, you start to notice a routine. Every morning, usually about 10 a.m. (when most of the press arrives), a rarely noticed country raises an objection to the process as a whole, and its position becomes the story of the day.
Thursday it was Tuvalu, a small island nation, arguing that any deal must include a more rigorous temperature cap. Considering its current status (sinking into the Pacific), the nation’s demands are certainly justified, but that doesn’t mean the story matters.
The reason these internal positions repeatedly capture the news cycle isn’t because they will ultimately make or break the negotiations; it’s because the negotiations themselves are nearly impossible to cover.
When it comes to the physical work, there’s no central chamber that holds the delegates. Instead, they organize countless side-meetings, sending draft language around the building via runners and frequently exposing working documents to an all-too-eager media.
The result is that every hiccup in the process becomes breaking news.
And the lesson for the reader? Be patient. In just a few more days, this phase of the conference will be concluded, and we’ll either have the foundations of a deal or we won’t.
Until then, the daily stories that continue to spread around the globe are largely white noise … the feedback from a microphone that’s turned way too high before anybody’s taken the stage.