Live from Copenhagen: Talks Halted - Who is pushing the buttons?

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

UPDATE: 12/14/09:

Talks at the Copenhagen climate conference are suspended with the least developed nations pulling the cord to call for a renewal of the kyoto protocol. One wonders how much of this move is fueled by African nations as is being bandied about and how much by China since China was the main beneficiary of kyoto and the African nations received next to nothing.


Copenhagen in Danish means "trading harbor" and that is exactly what is going on here. The problem is that unlike commercial trading, the parties here often have just as much of an incentive to delay a deal as to consummate an agreement.

So far in the conference, various texts have been bandied about -- some inflammatory, some useful -- but none contain a comprehensive agreement. The developed nations want to look like they are committing to something tangible while skirting tough issues. The developing countries have little leverage other than public outrage.

The tiny island of Tuvalu made a dramatic motion in proposing an agreement that would maintain the actually have legally binding carbon limits -- what a notion!

The wealthy countries meanwhile are cajoling each other to ante up a technology transfer pot of money that would go to poorer countries. The EU has floated 10 billion dollars. The US may commit billions as well.

Throwing some money at the problem is what we always like to do. Here, take this sop, and let us punt the tough decisions until next year in Mexico City where the climate negotiations will reconvene with sun and tequilla.

At this rate, nothing substantive will come out of COP15. What we may see this week are specific targets put out by the US and China with no timeline of implementation and heavy lifting back home.

Much of the activity here is kabuki theater with lots of activity in the big Bella Center, but real power concentrated in the hands of a few countries with lots of incentives and political pressures to push this off to a sunnier, warmer day.