Copenhagen: If you put it in the hands of leaders…

At the last round of climate talks in Barcelona, I had an interesting conversation with a former negotiator about what the global leaders might do here in Copenhagen. It wasn’t so much a betting game about what they would actually get done as a discussion about how the mere presence of actual decision makers could result in a political phase-change of sorts.  Read more

Copenhagen: The leaders speak

The Bella Center paused as global leaders stepped up to the podium for the first time this afternoon. Everybody was hoping for something new from China and the United States, but neither Wen Jiabao nor Barack Obama offered up anything of the sort. Only Brazilian President Inacio Luiz Lula da Silva put something new on the table, saying that Brazil would meet its pledge without any international resources and would in fact contribute money to help poorer countries cope with global warming.  Read more

Copenhagen: ‘It’s anybody’s guess.’

I got off the train this morning, walked past a drum corps and the big-screen television broadcasting interviews with activist experts. I picked up my free vegan sandwich from the ever-pleasant anti-meat protesters and passed through the first security checkpoint. On my way in, I could hear another crowd of protesters amplified by bullhorns somewhere off in the distance.  Read more

Copenhagen: ‘They are heading into that zombie state’

It’s crunch time here, and everything appears to be moving along as expected, which is to say everything is behind schedule. The main negotiating bodies finished their work this morning, which is to say that they got as far as they can go. The Danes were expected to drop new text proposing some compromise language this afternoon, which, if accepted, in theory, the ministers would then iron into shape before the leaders take over tomorrow. But there are procedural delays, and the Danes have hit the pause button to try to design a new framework for breaking up the text into pieces rather than negotiating everything in the main plenary, where 193 countries squabbling over every detail could send things into chaos.  Read more

Copenhagen: Moving forward, destination unknown

Something resembling order has been restored to the Bella Center in Copenhagen. The climate talks are back on track after getting derailed, for a second time, by protests from poor countries who are angry about a lack of commitment from industrialized nations as well as lack of clarity about the ultimate architecture of a possible agreement (see BBC , Telegraph).  Read more

Copenhagen: REDD all over, lofty goals, lesser ambitions

Sunday was Forest Day, and I celebrated it along with several hundred people at a forum chalk full of science and policy presentations about integrating efforts to integrate forests into the global warming framework. This annual event is in its third year, and the efforts of those present would appear to be paying off: Negotiators working on the deforestation text have reached agreement on all but a pair of issues, which will likely be kicked up to environment ministers.  Read more

Copenhagen, day five: Multiple bubbles, too many choices and one giant question mark

Copenhagen, day five: Multiple bubbles, too many choices and one giant question mark

I’ll be honest. I completely ignored the negotiations in Copenhagen on Friday. No kidding. I didn’t even pretend to care. Partly because not much appeared to be happening, at least not much outside of the usual political struggles that we’ve reported countless times over the past two years. But also because plenty of interesting talks are under way at any number of side events throughout the conference center. There are too many choices, in fact. I focused my time on a fascinating series of talks related to emissions scenarios, how various commitments address the actual problem of global warming and  … Read more

Copenhagen: Upon arrival, yesterday’s news today

I arrived in Copenhagen via Amsterdam from Washington today, along with a host of other Washingtonians making the same journey. After a quick shower, I found my way to the conference centre, through the metal detectors, past the credentialing stand and into the conference. Thousands of people milled about; hundreds of journalists filled a media room; bright lights and cameras focused on a revolving slate of officials who were being interviewed in one language or another.  Read more

A simple climate model to the rescue

Robert Corell, chairman of the Washington-based Climate Action Initiative, recently illustrated the appeal of a remarkably simple modelling tool by giving reporters a direct answer to a difficult question: What is the impact of the international climate commitments announced thus far? Citing results from C-ROADS (for Climate Rapid Overview and Decision-support Simulator), Corell suggested that we are headed toward warming of 4 degrees Celsius by 2100.  Read more

A new adaptation tool: climate insurance

A new adaptation tool: climate insurance

As even the staunchest advocates will tell you, climate insurance is by no means a magic bullet. But clearly the tools of modern finance could certainly help make poor nations prepare for and respond to all manner of natural disasters big and small. We explore some of these ideas in this week’s issue of Nature, taking a quick look at how the insurance debate is playing out in the ongoing United Nations climate talks. The upshot is that some kind of insurance mechanism is likely to make it into whatever climate deal is struck in Copenhagen and beyond. One commonly  … Read more