Copenhagen Day 1 – Obama, the dragon lady and media moans


Global climate negotiations have opened in Copenhagen and already a lot has happened. President Barack Obama of the United States will now attend the climax of negotiations. This may signal that the United States is more serious about the talks and that a real deal is possible.

Joe Romm at the Climate Progress blog was excited by this development arguing that ‘anyone who thinks there’s not going to be a bipartisan climate bill in the spring (in the United States) or an international deal coming out of Copenhagen isn’t paying attention.’ On the same blog Andrew Light of the Centre for American Progress, a US think tank said ‘Obama’s decision will effectively transform the Copenhagen climate conference into the largest summit yet of world leaders focused on global warming. The decision to commit the US to a global climate assistance fund for developing countries is essential for any hope for a good outcome.’

Meanwhile behind the scenes Philippines negotiator Bernarditas de Castro Muller, considered by many to be an important champion of the developing world and known colloquially as the ‘dragon woman’ because of her fierce negotiating style, has been dropped from her national delegation. The Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Working Group on Climate Change and Development was unhappy with this turn of events:

“The idea that Bernarditas Muller will not fight for the Philippines and for other poor nations is inconceivable. She has been a passionate and effective champion for poor countries to receive financial aid to cope with the harm that rich countries have done to them,” Chito Tionko of the group said. 

The group also speculated that she was dropped due to developing country pressure:

“The exclusion of Bernarditas Muller, a long-time diplomat, is a cowardly acquiescence to the US, EU, Japan, Canada and Australian pressures to eliminate vocal defenders of developing countries’ interests from the negotiations.”

But Bernarditas will seemingly still attend the conference, with Filipino television reporting that she has been adopted by the Sudanese delegation. Sudan currently chairs the G77 group of developing nations, so it is likely that the ‘dragon woman’ may play a prominent role in talks, frustrating developing countries.

Meanwhile the conference itself is full to bursting and media colleagues are unhappy at having to wait until midday to enter the Copenhagen’s Bella Centre. Good luck getting in and see you there.