Days 6 and 7 at Copenhagen: Like a Death Panel, For Countries

Emotions are running high inside and outside the Bella Center in Copenhagen as the UN climate summit enters its second week.

“I woke up this morning crying, and that’s not easy for a grown man to admit,” Tuvalu’s chief climate negotiator, Ian Fry, told hundreds of delegates in the Bella Center in Copenhagen on Saturday. “The fate of my country rests in your hands,” he said, his voice breaking. Global warming is an existential issue for Tuvalu and other small island nations. If global warming goes unchecked, these countries will literally be wiped off the map. For countries like Tuvalu, COP15 is effectively a referendum on their continued existence. Will the rest of the world step up, or will it write them off?

Fry appealed to the delegates to consider Tuvalu’s proposal to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius (as opposed to 2-degree limit that’s currently under consideration). The Tuvalu plan would be a legally binding agreement that would commit all nations to reducing carbon emissions. India, China, Saudi Arabia, and other oil-producing countries oppose Tuvalu’s tough alternative protocol.

Outside, tens of thousands of protesters gathered on Saturday to demand climate justice in Copenhagen. Human rights groups accuse police of heavy-handed tactics and indescriminate arrests. There were 68 arrests on Friday, 958 on Saturday, and 257 on Sunday, according to the Guardian.

On Sunday, several African countries threatened to pull out of talks if significant progress is not made in the next three days. Their negotiators are accusing the developed countries of dragging their feet, waiting for the final day of the summit when the heads of state arrive, including President Obama. The poor countries worry that, unless the rich nations start negotiating in good faith now, the real deal will be hammered out on the last day without their input.

The big three issues for next week are: emissions, money, and deforestation.