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December 2009
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Plane Talking

Behind the headlines


I am sure most of you are seeing the news coming from the Copenhagen Climate Talks on TV or in the press. What you see doesn’t always capture the reality though. Despite the theatrical walk-outs by delegations, the suspension of negotiations and other drama, things here on the ground are not actually that exciting.

So, what are we doing on a day-to-day basis? Well, the large document that everyone is working towards here – the co-called Copenhagen Accord (although there have been indications today that it may turn into a Copenhagen Protocol) – has been split into a huge number of sections which are the subject of entire negotiations just by themselves. Literally, the text is broken up and negotiated paragraph-by-paragraph by different teams of delegates.

One such team is working on the text that relates to "bunker fuels" – carbon emissions caused by fuel carried across international waters and borders by aircraft and ships. This team has been negotiating about how these emissions may be treated under any new agreement. These negotiating sessions are closed to everyone except the official country delegates, but every now and then through contacts at NGOs or even on country delegations, we are able to get copies of how the new texts on aviation are progressing. There are currently around four or five different versions of the text that is interesting to us.

We also use our time here to provide information to those making the decisions – we have meetings with delegations, try to bump into important people in the corridors and hold side events (basically give presentations about our position and take time to answer questions from both delegates and environmental groups). Paul Steele, our executive director, spoke about aviation biofuels yesterday (you can watch a video here). We held our own side event on our political objectives today (photo above) and Paul is speaking right now at a Romanian Government event on aviation efficiency. It is all about making sure the guys in the negotiating room have all the information they need to make the right decisions.

Work continues tomorrow (Saturday). There’s no rest for the negotiations, as all the Ministers start to arrive over the weekend.