How the clock ticks to the grand finale — (and not so grand text)

Hello and it’s the finale today. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has kicked off the high level summit,  with the words: “The finishing line is in sight. The discussions are bearing in fruit.. Just hours remain”.

And so these are glimpses of how things are shaping up as the clock ticks (and it’s likely to tick long into Saturday).

The major players — China, Brazil, US and India — are the early speakers and each seems to have reiterated what has been said so far.  If you read between the lines, and the lines themselves, there is something on the table, with many imperfections, and the protractions will continue in 2010.

US president Obama again did not have anything new to say, but agrees (what seems obvious by now) that “our ability to take collective action is in doubt”.

And that “this is not a perfect agreement…. we can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward, continue to refine it and build upon its foundation. ….Or we can choose delay, falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years”.

He repeated that the US agrees to contributing (an unspecified amount) to a quick start fund worth US$10 billion per year till 2012 and US$ 100 billion per year till 2020; but aid to countries is conditional on transparency from the latter.. There was the usual rhetoric (time is running out; time not to talk but act; need to act boldly and actively), etc etc

Obama was preceded by Brazil’s irrepressible Lulla da Silva who characteristically indicated that the agreement in the pipeline is less than perfect, with few figures and that: “If we do not have the conditions to have such a (well worked out) document, I am not sure if some angel or wise man can come  down to this plenary and put in our minds the intelligence that we lacked till now”. Wonder who was referring to?

And India’s Manmohan Singh says  The outcome may fall short of expectation, and that to settle for something that would seem as diminished expectations and a diminished implementation of UNFCCC would send “a very wrong message” from this conference.  He says the vast majority of countries do not support any renegotiation or dilution of the principles of UNFCCC, in particular the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities.

More to follow

T V Padma, South Asia Regional Regional Coordinator

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