What is actually going on at Cop15? Meetings. Yesterday, the opening plenary session was supposed to address a proposed amendment to the Kyoto Protocol by Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, Kazakhstan never got to expand on its proposal due to the slow pace of the negotiation process.
Just as before, countries such as India, China, Saudi Arabia, are on a one track path to only stick only to honoring Kyoto. The reason that India and China are two of the fastest developing countries in the world and want this badly. Since Kyoto is not a legally binding agreement, these countries can reach their goals at their own pace. Small Island and African nations are on a two-track mind, wanting to honor and change Kyoto in order to come out of Cop15 with a new legally binding agreement.
Last but not least, the EU is also on a one-track path, however only to a new and legally binding agreement.
If all parties are so widely spread, how is anything ever going to get done? The Big Four asked this question at Versailles, I think. Treaties and agreements take time. Conflicting interests need to be articulated and agreements based around mutual restrictions are not easy. Nonetheless, procedural matters do tend to drag things out.
The outlook on the conference has gone from optimistic to simply tiring and the big week is still to come. The conclusion of the morning's session came when President Connie Hedegaard asked to go into closed door meetings until a decision can be made about whether or not Kyoto would be discussed further; in other words, a meeting to discuss what the meeting will be about. Delegates to represent this closed door group were elected by the president, and were not allowed to leave until they reached a decision.
As it turns out, the delegates never emerged from hiding yesterday. Meanwhile, the working groups were not allowed to work during this closed session. This meant all the delegates and countries that were not in the closed session were sort of like passengers in an airline terminal booked on a delayed flight.
There was a possibility that the closed meeting would vote on the matter, but no vote took place. Because of this, the afternoon plenary session was cancelled, and there was no session on Friday morning, which gave the assembled delegates time to breathe out the air they'd been holding in. By Saturday morning, the COP is supposed to have come up with a report on their progress where all the delegates can evaluate and give input.
Only Saturday will tell if all of these meetings are as arbitrary as they actually seem.