Copenhagen, Day 7

From Wednesday in Copenhagen…

A globe in the conference hall left off several of the Pacific island nations through an "oversight."

Wednesday saw various arrivals at the Copenhagen conference: some heads of state, some settling snow and a rising sense of despair. The conference was designed to ratchet up the pressure as it moved form the procedural to the substantive and from functionaries to heads of state. Now the bigwigs are here making statements, and the procedural side of things is pretty much a mess.

The text, that on long-term commitment, was not even that far advanced, having yet to make it to a plenary for acceptance. It has, though, managed to grow larger as it waits.

All in all, the idea that presidents and prime ministers turning up would spur a breakthrough seems wrong. It was meant to goad the parties into producing ship-shape documents in which the big things that remained to be done were well defined. Then the big cheeses would reach agreement on the key issues—emissions, financing, the nature of developing-country commitments and the means by which they might be audited—and bless the resulting texts, producing not treaties but documents in which there was serious political capital invested.

Part of that political agreement would be a timetable for developing the outcomes into new legal documents for signing at some point in 2010. Tim Groser, New Zealand’s minister for trade is scathing on the subject.

“Now … the stakes here are that much higher. But right now, can I see a basis in the texts for an outcome? No.”

The Pulse is providing readers with a daily snippet of The Economist’s correspondent diary. You can find past updates from the conference diary here. Please visit The Economist for the full text of the diary and extended coverage of the conference.

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