Students first heard Brazilian president Lula’s commanding speech highlighting his frustration at Conference proceedings that had him at meetings until 2am the previous night. Lula outlined all the steps Brazil has taken to show the world at this Conference that Brazil, a rapidly developing nation, is committed to working with the international community on climate change. He stated that when his term as president began his primarily target was to ensure that all Brazilians could have three meals a day. Even as his country works toward this goal, they are also extremely committed to dealing with climate change and have pledged reductions of 36.1-38.9% despite having to undertake massive changes in the agriculture, fuel, forestry and energy matrix sectors. If the world needs more, Brazil is willing to pledge funds from its already limited pocketbook to help other perhaps more limited developing nations in order to produce a document out of Copenhagen.
The students murmered awe and approval at Lula’s comments but were soon shushed and then holding their breath as Obama appeared on the screen. Obama began strong calling for less talk and more action. But as his speech went on, it became obvious action didn’t mean hammering out a treaty in these last few precious hours. It meant hammering out details that may lead to a later deal. He was firm in his plan: American will continue to mitigate energy emissions. America wants transparency. America will commit to financing for developing countries at the earlier announced target of 10 billion through fast start investing and continue to try to develop an international plan for 100 billion by 2012.
Obama said “We are willing to get this done today but cooperation is needed on all sides.” A clear message to the Chinese.
In Chinese premier Wen’s speech today, he stuck to his previous position: a firm national commitment to sustainability and climate change mitigation but called on historical responsibility for climate change. A clear message to the US.
Both leaders & nbs committing to work on this issue nationally is certainly good news but not the kind the students, nor Copenhagen, nor the world was looking for. It means the US and China are deadlocked in negotiations. It means the 110 leaders that are here today for COP15 will have to meet again in the future to continue talks. And it means the students will have to find a way to cheer themselves up and they will have to find a way over to Mexico City when talks resume.
Andrea Niehaus, Co-Director, Iowa UNA