Copenhagen week one: bad jokes, tears and death by powerpoint.


The first week of Copenhagen is coming to a close. Negotiators have negotiated, protestors have protested, twits have tweeted and Danish vending machines have tried (unsuccessfully) to prevent me from getting the Haribo sweets I deserve. Chinese negotiator Su Wei made jokes about the American negotiating team, his English, the EU and mathematically challenged members of the press. Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping, head of the G77 and man with the best name ever, cried.

In the cavernous plenary halls and deliberately cramped adjacent meeting rooms where negotiations take place, not a huge amount happened. The Chinese negotiating team played hardball and spent the week attacking and mocking all major developed nations. These nations put initial figures on the table for financing adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, but said they wouldn’t give any to China.

The small island state of Tuvalu, perhaps inadvisably, started a fight with China over the possibility of negotiating a new ‘Copenhagen Protocol. Tuvalu, a member of the Alliance of Small Island States, wants tougher targets, including limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees. China, though ‘sympathetic’ to the plight of AOSIS, is not so keen on negotiating a new Protocol which might include more responsibility for China. In private, many Chinese officials do not believe a target of 2 degrees is achievable, so the demands of the small islands are unlikely to get very far.

Outside the plenary halls there was a largely media generated kerfuffle about secret Copenhagen agreements and accords floating round, which we read, analysed and spilt Danish beer on. Powerpoint was used and abused in civil society side-events, with presenters repeatedly using the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – a popular British science fiction novel from the 1970s – to illustrate REDD methodological processes.

Tomorrow things start to get serious with huge protests planned. Next week heads of state begin to arrive and things may move forward. We’ll see you then.