The talks in Copenhagen have been a mess the last few days. The Danish Presidency appears to have been way over its head and seems to have badly handled its role, failing to capitalize on the largest ever gathering of World leaders. The lack of ambition from most of those leaders from rich nations didn't help.
The leaders held talks late into the night that President Lula from Brazil described as an experience that leaders shouldn't be subjected to. He expressed his frustration and said an Angel needed to descend to give them the intelligence that they are missing.
It was one of a series of speeches given by leaders to try to breathe some momentum back into the process. But Lula was followed by what must be the worst speech of Obama's life. It lacked ambition and broadcast a willingness to move from their current inadequate position.
The focus now is on agreeing to a three-page political declaration; the legal texts that have been worked on for the past two years apparently tossed aside, or at least to the side. It's not clear what if any status they will have.
The declaration has an appropriate long-term global emission reduction target (50% by 2050) but developed countries' short-term emission reduction target by 2020 (from 1990 levels) is X.
The meaning of X will largely determine whether this conference is a success or a failure.
The casting aside of the legal texts means that the rules for forestry emissions accounting will not be settled here. There will be no decision to make forests count in Copenhagen, not in developed countries anyway. On the positive side, this means that we have more time to get the loopholes out. Climate Action Network proposed a very reasonable basis for accounting here - account for all changes in emissions from a historical level, defined as the average level of emissions from 1990 - 2007.
The current forestry accounting rules have a shelf-life. They must be replaced or reaffirmed for the second commitment period. So it is reasonable to assume that we will pick up where we left off next year...
...and there is good news too: many people have stepped up to make forests count:
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