The Cancun climate change conference looks to run into the wee hours of night. There is even a rumor that it might run into the wee hours of Saturday night. I can report that the activists and developing country representatives are furious. As they say over and over in press conferences and in the corridors of the Moon Palace convention center, they came to Cancun expecting rich countries to agree to extend and deepen their emissions cuts under the Kyoto Protocol and to hand over tens of billions in climate reparations.
They also expected the U.S. to agree to some kind of process that would lead to it submitting to legally binding emissions cuts at the next conference in Durban, South Africa. The climate reparations fund would be run by developing country representatives.The developing countries and activists also wanted to set up accounting standards and monitoring to make sure that rich countries weren't paying the climate reparartions by cutting other foreign aid. On the other hand, they reject accounting standards designed to track how the reparations would be spent as intrusive.
Emerging country big emitters, e.g., China and India, that have pledged to at least reduce their carbon intensity, refuse to allow for outside auditing. The world will just have to take their words for it.
Although breakthroughs are possible, at the moment it looks like the negotiators may well "kick the Cancun down the road" to Durban in 2011 or perhaps even Doha in 2012. If that happens, the fear here is that the U.N. multilateral process will die and future climate change conferences will become "zombie conferences" at which only low level bureaucrats show up. It could happen.
Have great weekend.