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Copenhagen diary: Saturday 19 December 2009

Susan Watts | 20:18 UK time, Saturday, 19 December 2009

0900 CET As we left for the airport this morning, Ed Miliband was fighting on, as Gordon Brown said last night that he and the UK would, in search of a global climate deal.

The climate change secretary was speaking in support of the Copenhagen Accord in the plenary session of this extraordinarily bureaucratic UN COP15 meeting. There is still opposition from some African countries, the Small Island States and some Latin American countries. They're still talking, and who knows whether it will finally get nodded through, or not.

The EU position remains fuzzy. It was pushed aside as the final bit of paper emerged late last night.

A lot of people will try very hard to make this sound like an outcome worth having, a first step on a long, long road. What's for sure is that this is a mess, and not just as a climate deal. It's being described as "a collapse of the UN process", "the end of multilateralism".

In the end, those who were suspicious of the US parachuting in a fix seem to have got it the most right. The Copenhagen Accord reads like a US-inspired, weak, agreement.

America, China, India, Brazil and South Africa are signed up to something. But what the group of five cooked up became progressively enfeebled during the course of yesterday.

Crucially, there are no numbers on emissions cuts, and no mention of a legally-binding treaty.

All that remains of note in this political text is an acknowledgement that scientists say that the increase in global temperature "should be below" 2C. There is also a promise of $30bn in short term money for poor nations to help them to tackle the effects of climate change, and move to a low carbon economy.

The promise from the developed world to create a $100bn fund of long-term finance remains in the balance

Even an aspiration to cut global emissions in half (against 1990 levels) by 2050 was eventually taken out, apparently in response to pressure from China. And America got the tougher language it wanted on the checks and balances that measure international emissions - the "transparency".

The EU will carry on talking, and meet up in the first few months of next year, with Angela Merkel as host. They will try again, I understand, to attach numbers to promises of emissions cuts. Last night the text contained none of the annexes with these numbers. They were taken out when it became plain that the best that was on offer amounted to too little to meet the 2C goal.

China played a harder game than many expected, and in the end Angela Merkel held out against stepping up the European offer of a 20% cuts in emissions to 30%, dependent on an ambitious deal. People are also blaming Germany for the removal of language that might have led to a legally-binding outcome - eventually.

Now, officials are admitting privately that the chances of a legally-binding treaty, of any complexion, remain slim. So what of the Kyoto Protocol? The world is left with what to many is a vacuum; no global regime on climate change, no carbon price. It will be hard for business to be more than lukewarm about this outcome.

The UN talking shop will continue, in an effort to pick up the pieces. But many still appear to be in shock at what just happened in Copenhagen.

1300 CET Lunchtime now, and the United Nations talks have produced a Copenhagen Accord. In the end the climate summit, including grumpy EU delegates, agreed to "take note" of a pact shaped by five major nations - the US, China, India, South Africa and Brazil. It's being described as a flawed, but essential first step forward.

Copenhagen diary: Thursday 17 December 2009

Susan Watts | 18:52 UK time, Thursday, 17 December 2009

After the chaos of yesterday, a sense of serenity descended on the centre of Copenhagen this morning, along with the snow.

But inside the climate change conference centre there has been mounting tension. This morning it still looked doubtful that there would be a text for world leaders to work from by the end of today, or tomorrow.

And there were also rumours that the Danish hosts were about to throw in the towel altogether.

They have been coming in for criticism over their handling of the process of the talks, accused of pulling fresh texts out of their back pockets whenever work on two main texts gets tricky.

This seems particularly to have annoyed the Chinese, who are working to the strict UN process that's been chuntering along for the past two years.

I asked Connie Hedegaard about this. She's the Danish environment minister who has been chairing the talks, and she confirmed that the talks ARE now focussed on TWO texts - one dealing with the Kyoto Protocol, under which only the developed world makes cuts, and a Copenhagen document of some kind.

Attempts to marry the two into one text seemed to have been abandoned, for now at least.

But now the US and Chinese teams are playing "hardball" in a stand-off over transparency.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters this morning that "transparency" from the Chinese is a US bottom line. Without this there will be no money, she said.

What she means by transparency is what is known in conference jargon as the "MRVs", or monitoring, reporting and verification.

In English, this is is the method nations use to confirm that others are actually making the cuts greenhouse gas emissions that they promise, for example by sending in inspectors, perhaps.

But the Chinese are not budging.They said today that they will be "transparent" with the rest of the world so long as this involves dialogue and co-operation, but not if it means infringing on China's sovereignty - so inspections would be out.

This morning the US moved on long term finance, saying it would "play its role" in generating a $100bn fund for developing countries by 2020.

This would be both public and private money, but there was no explicit number on any of the amounts the US might give, or raise.

Nevertheless Ed Miliband, the UK Climate Change Secretary, said this was a big move, which he consdiers significant:

"The challenge for us is to make sure that sum doesn't get left on the table without a deal, that would be tragic" he told reporters.

Overall, he said he feels more optimistic today than yesterday, and that it's now a race against the clock:

"The deal remains very much in the balance... there are still challenges of process, and it's an uphill task."

He clearly thinks the whole thing could still be scuppered on matters of process, not substance - as he told Newsnight last night.

On China, the talks continue. "There are very tense talks going on with China over MRV," Mr Miliband said.

The chatter at the conference is that these negotiations could now drag on beyond Friday into Saturday.

Tomorrow, Europe could agree deeper emissions cuts, which could help. But with more than 100-odd matters for discussion still in square brackets - or not agreed - tonight's all-night talks will still be very difficult.

Copenhagen diary: Wednesday 16 December 2009

Susan Watts | 16:00 UK time, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

It has been a scene of chaos outside and inside the Bella Centre today.
Hundreds of protestors converged on the building from early this morning, determined to get past police lines and enter the UN area to form a "people's assembly". We filmed with various groups as they walked to the centre and asked what they hoped to achieve.

copenhagen2_226.jpgThey told me they think the talks here at Copenhagen are ignoring the wishes of indigenous people, and that rich voices are drowning those from the poor. They have an anti-capitalist position, and see no role for governments or corporations in any deal because they are putting profit ahead of what they call "climate justice".

It wasn't just the protesters who were upset. Hundreds of people signed up to attend from NGOs were turned away by the UN, and staged sit-down protests of their own.

copenhagen1_226.jpgIn the meantime, police vans drove very close to the marchers, who kept asking them to move back, with shouts of "we are peaceful, what are you?" At around 11.30am, the atmosphere became more tense. Marchers had congregated in the main street in front of the centre, and police from either end moved in to contain them.

Then the chaos INSIDE began too. Reports started to come through that Connie Hedegaard, the Danish environment minister presiding over the talks, had resigned and that Prime Minister Rasmussen had taken over. It sounded dramatic, and news that she'd stepped down spread so fast into the febrile mood here that environment groups swiftly began to read this as a sign that the more "radical" Connie had been sacked.

It turned out that this handover was always planned, as the talks move into the high level, ministerial sessions at this end of this week. But the announcement had been badly handled, in character with much of the organisation here.

So what of the substance of the talks? These, apparently went on until 5am, with reports that US involvement had not been helpful. Numbers in the text had apparently been replaced with "xxx's" again, and by the time the demonstration had reached the centre's gates BOTH tracks were stalled - those on the possible continuation of the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012, and those on the Copenhagen "agreement" itself.

The so-called Danish text - a fall back - had been parachuted in, but Africa and others were not happy. The words "crisis" and "collapse" are now starting to be used.

The Ethiopian leader, Meles Zenawi, proposed a finance deal in the main plenary session backed by Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy, with much of the money to be raised by new taxes on aviation and shipping, and an innovative global tax on all financial transactions - known as a Tobin tax.

Mr Zenawi also wants a commitment to long-term finance, to 2020, above and beyond the $30bn "fast start" money for the next three years. He acknowledged that many in Africa would not be happy with this, but urged the group to strike a bargain.

He said: "I know my proposal today will disappoint some Africans who from the point of view of justice have asked for full compensation for the damage done to our development prospects. My proposal scales back on expectations with regards to the level of funding in return for more reliable funding and a seat at the table in the management of any such fund.

"I believe there is an important underlying principle here. Africa loses more than most if there is no agreement on climate change. We lose more not only because our ecology is more fragile, but also because our best days are ahead of us and lack of agreement here could murder our future even before it is born.

"Because we have more to lose than others we have to be prepared to be flexible and prepared to go the extra mile to accommodate others," he said.

Today, even the deal to protect forests, which had been progressing relatively smoothly, was breaking down - "yo-yo-ing" was how one observer put it. The picture here is now shifting hour by hour.

Copenhagen diary: Tuesday 15 December 2009

Susan Watts | 17:09 UK time, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The talks here are ratcheting up a notch now, with world leaders arriving - UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the next couple of hours and others in the coming few days.

The talks are moving into a new phase - the high level summit when negotiators give way to their political masters.

Prince Charles spoke this evening - about creating a global fund to protect the world's forests - one part of these talks looking hopeful of agreement this week.

The rest of it, though, is still bogged down. UK Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said tonight that though things looks a little better today than yesterday, when teams from the developing world walked out, Copenhagen could still fail.

One observer said that by now he would have hoped that at least the key areas of dispute would be clear, but that not even that has settled.

Ministers and their leaders may even have to "rip up" what the negotiators have been working on, and start again.

ONE of the many, many fault lines remaining is whether the world should be aiming to limit the average rise in global temperatures to 2C, which is the position of the major economies, or a lower 1.5C rise above pre-industrial levels which the least developed countries and Africa are pushing for.

Today, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, pitched into that row saying that though it would be "good" to keep temperatures lower, that might jeopardise a deal altogether - a sacrifice he sees as too large to make.

That may be a pragmatic approach by the UN, but it is not going down well with those countries who want the world to reach for more.

The chair of the least developed countries group, Bruno Sikoli, told me the lower temperature is not up for negotiation, because a 2C goal means 3C for parts of Africa and other poor nations.

There IS a feeling here that this could remain an issue over the coming days, though chatting to teams in the Bella Centre tonight it is clearly just one of a number of unresolved issues.

If the developed nations were to offer more, say by firmly committing to keep the legally-binding Kyoto Protocol in place at the same time as some form of Copenhagen agreement, along with fresh money perhaps, then there is still a chance that the developing nations will agree to drop this push for 1.5C.

Mr Miliband has just told reporters that the crucial finance session he is now co-chairing, carried on talking up to midnight last night. It has now agreed that more public money is needed, but no figure.

Mr Miliband said he feels the outlook is more positive than yesterday, but the fact is we are still in the phase where everything is in a state of flux, with reports that in texts circulating this evening the G77 and Chinese are adding back in elements they had agreed to take out earlier on.

We spotted John Prescott, a veteran of the Kyoto negotiations in the famous queue (which you can see in the film below) this morning in the cold.

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He told us the mood is absolutely as he expected for this stage of the talks, but that world leaders now have a chance to heal even the major rifts still erupting here.

All that still to come, and suggestions of major, mass direct action around the centre tomorrow... as anger is growing among the NGOs that so many of them will be turned away by the UN as they try to get into the centre for the next critical few days.

Copenhagen diary: Monday 14 December 2009

Susan Watts | 16:00 UK time, Monday, 14 December 2009

"Absolute chaos" is the polite way to describe the scenes outside the Bella Centre this morning. A vast crowd of journalists, NGOs, business reps, even families and young children in a shambolic mess - waiting to get accredited and inside.

Worse, there were negotiators and political advisors in the crowd too. I spotted one prominent member of the British team.

police_copenhagen.jpg

Inside the centre things went from bad to worse during the course of the morning. The plenary sessions were finally suspended when teams from the developing nations said they had had enough.

There are still rumours that the G77 may even walk out completely tomorrow, and opposing rumours that they have been persuaded to stay.

What upset delegates from developing countries on Monday morning is that they felt that the two central planks of these talks are being sidelined - that is the numbers attached to pledges from the developed world to cut emissions, and the amount of money on offer for poorer nations to adapt.

This, I understand, was only made worse when the Danish chair suggested that these issues be put to one side, to allow talks to continue on lesser issues - such as the nature of carbon markets.

This only infuriated the poorer countries, apparently, and led to the walk-out.

It is all something of a chess game - all the pieces have to be in the right place for the game to be won. And some observers are remaining philosophical - saying this is pretty much what was expected.

That is because up to now the talks have been the preserve of negotiators, with entrenched positions that are unlikely to shift until world leaders arrive in the next few days.

Copenhagen diary: Friday 11 December 2009

Susan Watts | 18:52 UK time, Friday, 11 December 2009

There's some ill feeling coming out of Copenhagen today that European Union ministers should have gone further than they did at their summit in Brussels.

The offer of short-term finance, of $3.5bn (2.4bn euros) each year to developing countries over the next three years is roundly welcomed, with Britain making the biggest contribution, so far, of the 27 EU nations.

The problem is the failure by the EU to shift up to a 30% cut in emissions on 1990 levels by 2020 - with no pre-condition that others cut too.

True, they may well be keeping this in their back pockets for next week, but politically it could have helped today, by applying pressure at an important moment - as leaders look to the all important second week.

toddstern_ap226.jpg

It could also have shown the leadership on climate change the EU says it aspires to, as China and the US sling mud at each other over their respective commitments to a Copenhagen deal.

China's Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei said of US climate envoy Todd Stern today: "I think he lacks common sense, or is extremely irresponsible," after remarks by Mr Stern that the US felt no debt to the world for its historical greenhouse gas emissions.

And on top of this apparent cold shouldering between the US and China, Mr Stern also placed a gap between the US and the Small Island States, which scientists say are most at threat from the effects of climate change.

They are asking for emissions cuts that would limit temperatures from rising 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Mr Stern said he understood their concerns, but that this temperature limit is "not in reach", and that a 2C limit remains the "focus".

At least, at the end of this first week we finally have sight of official texts. One is an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, another a first attempt at some kind of broader Copenhagen deal, and some of the smaller groupings have put early proposals forward too.

There's plenty now for all sides to get their teeth into at informal talks over the weekend and into next week, when the political leaders arrive. But the fog may well get thicker yet before it clears.

Copenhagen diary: Thursday 10 December 2009

Susan Watts | 16:14 UK time, Thursday, 10 December 2009

The hot topics at Copenhagen today

Some wandering of attention today to the world outside the conference itself - first, to President Barack Obama in Oslo, picking up his Nobel peace prize. And some pondering too of the significance of the Russian announcement that President Dmitry Medvedev will attend Copenhagen on the final two days.

climateprotester_getty226.jpg

Will this be the moment that the two men sign a new nuclear arms agreement - on the sidelines of Copenhagen? That could prove a distraction from the climate politics... perhaps a welcome one if it's all going badly.

Mr Obama used his Oslo speech to reiterate his position on climate change, putting this in terms of global security:

"The world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and activists who call for swift and forceful action - it is military leaders in my country and others who understand that our common security hangs in the balance."

In reply, Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping, representing the G77 bloc of developing nations and China, urged Mr Obama to bring more than carefully crafted words with him next week.

He wants a return to the Kyoto Protocol as part of an agreement at Copenhagen, describing this as "an equitable and just deal that would save the planet".

Early, leaked, texts doing the rounds variously look a little more and some a little less like a Kyoto-style framework, which the US dislikes.

Mr Lumumba also urged the US to help free up $200bn in special drawing rights in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which, he said, could be used to address the threat of climate change.

This is an idea that gained some support today with an intervention by the American billionaire George Soros.

There's much talk today of "splits".

The first hangs in the air after Tuvalu succeeded in getting the talks suspended for much of yesterday afternoon by calling for major emerging economies such as China to start setting emissions reduction targets.

This goes against the G77 mantra up until now - that the developed world is responsible for climate change, so should bear the burden of cuts. The Tuvalu move was blocked by China, India, Saudi Arabia and other large developing countries.

Then there are the EU splits. The EU has said it wants to lead on climate change, but is divided internally on the two key issues for Copenhagen - emissions and finance.

At the EU summit today and tomorrow in Brussels, ministers will discuss whether or not to raise their offer of emissions cuts from 20% of 1990 levels by 2020, to 30% - contingent on an ambitious deal emerging.

Britain is calling for the 30% figure, Poland and others are resisting.

The EU is split too over how much each country should pay towards a fund to help developing nations adapt and move to low carbon economies.

Can the EU agree on these two key issues ahead of next week's wider conversations in Copenhagen?

Most EU ministers appear to be bringing forward their travel plans to Wednesday 16 December - which could prove a lively day, with rumours of possible protests inside the conference hall...

Copenhagen diary: Wednesday 9 December 2009

Susan Watts | 13:54 UK time, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

It didn't take long - the leaking has begun.

On only the second day of two-weeks of climate negotiations in Copenhagen a draft text, apparently prepared by the Danish hosts, has prompted fears that they are excluding developing countries, and their demands, from the negotiating process.

This so-called Danish text, leaked to the Guardian newspaper, is dated 27 November 2009, and given the pace of these negotiations it is likely to be out of date by now.

There appear to have been at least two big discussions of it since then, and probably a lot of less comprehensive talks.

But as it has come out into the open, the text has become the focus of anger and frustration from developing countries and, to some extent, China, at Copenhagen itself.

They see this as confirmation that there has been a parallel track taking place, outside the main United Nations (UN) negotiating process.

The Danish hosts have been preparing a slimmed down version of the official early 200-odd pages of UN text.

That is because they are now working towards only a political accord or agreement, rather than a legally-binding treaty, albeit with all the key elements on finance, technology transfer, forests and numbers on emissions cuts included.

When I spoke to the Danes last night, they were adamant that there are no "secret" documents, or shady back-room deals, and that they are talking to everybody, developing countries included.

They say working papers like this are circulated as part of the informal negotiating process.

But the head of the G77 group of developing countries, Sudan's Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping, told me that the Danish approach had "endangered the entire process".

He said it confirmed the suspicions of the developing countries that the prime minister of Denmark, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, had decided simply to put forward the interests of "the EU, and other advanced countries".

He said the Danes risked undermining the "integrity, transparency and balance" of the negotiations, and that this was:

"An unfortunate development... particularly coming from the chair, who is supposed to shepherd the process to find an equitable deal."

An adviser to the Malawi delegation, Clement Kalonga, is clearly anxious about how things are going.

He told Newsnight: "It's quite a concern for us in the developing world that we are the worst affected in terms of climate change, and lives are being lost every day, and we are being sidelined in negotiations for a deal which should be fair to address the problem of climate change."

So are developing countries right to be wary, given the tone of this early draft?

Well certainly the Danes are being accused, at the very least, of handling things poorly.

Early on they set up something called the Copenhagen Circle of Commitment - made up of key players such as the US and the EU.

The motive was a delicate balance of seeking to secure a deal, without appearing to impose one in a heavy-handed way.

It was always a high-risk strategy. This "circle" appears only relatively recently to have been widened to include a larger pool of countries, and that has annoyed a lot of people.

Expect more leaks like this, they are common currency of this process, and used, through journalists, to apply pressure on the negotiations themselves.

What really counts is the text at the very end of it all, and that that text includes a deadline, perhaps June? by when it's agreed a treaty must be signed.

Any later, and US congressional elections will get in the way of anything much beyond words resulting from Copenhagen.

Copenhagen diary: Tuesday 8 December 2009

Susan Watts | 15:59 UK time, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Written at 4pm, Tuesday 8 December

Quick note today. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has said that 2009 looks set to rank as the fifth warmest year, and the "Noughties" the hottest decade since records began in 1850:

http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/press_releases/index_en.html

The WMO's final analysis for 2009 isn't due until early next year, but according to Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the WMO, speaking at the Copenhagen conference today: "the decade 2000-2009 is very likely to be the warmest on record. So, in other words, this decade is going to be warmer than the 1990s, which itself were warmer than the 1980s and so on."

The organisation said it estimates the global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature for 2009 (January-October) as 0.44°C ± 0.11°C above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.00°C.

Above-normal temperatures were recorded in most parts of the continents. Only North America (United States and Canada) experienced conditions that were cooler than average. They went on to say that given current figures, large parts of southern Asia and central Africa are likely to experience their warmest year on record.

Three data sets feed into the WMO temperature analysis. Data from the Met Office/University of East Anglia (subject of the recent e-mail row), along with that from Nasa and the US NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Vicky Pope, head of climate research at the Met Office told the BBC: "In terms of the rates of warming, we do expect the rate of warming to change from one decade to the next, just because of natural variations. So even though there's a long-term warming trend because of global warming, we get things like El Nino happening, things like volcanic eruptions, which mean that we get variations from one year to the next, and one decade to the next."

Copenhagen diary: Monday 7 December 2009

Susan Watts | 11:46 UK time, Monday, 7 December 2009

ap595x280room.jpg

As the Copenhagen Conference begins, and the negotiators get down to the really hard part, the rest of the world is still full of chatter about the e-mail leak from the University of East Anglia (UEA), and in some cases, whether climate change is happening at all.

Climate scientists may be beginning to feel that they have stepped back five years, to before the 2005 scientific conference in Exeter at which they agreed that to avoid dangerous climate change the world should keep global temperature rise to less that 2C above pre-industrial levels.

That cleared the way for political leaders to sign up to the same goal, and to start talking about how to make it happen through a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol.

That Exeter conference took place at the Met Office Hadley Centre that is now so fearful of the damage the e-mail row has caused that it is offering to re-analyse the global temperature record from scratch.

This week it plans to release a subset of the data that it and the UEA team together used to produce the temperature record.

Deadline looming

The UK government insists a re-working is not needed (yet). The Met Office clearly feels this is the only way to draw a line under the UEA row.

It makes for a messy start to Copenhagen. And how will it all look two weeks from now?

The Danish host, Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, I'm told, prefers a work-life balance that keeps weekends free. Sensible man.

He apparently wants the deal done and dusted by the final Friday - 18 December.

This would be a refreshing departure from the tradition of climate talks, which tend to drag into the small hours of the Saturday.

But the prime minister seems unlikely to get his way, unless the arrival of US President Barack Obama on the 18th really does focus minds for a dramatic last push.

Legal status

The British delegation clearly feels that all is still to play for. Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband told journalists last week that his real fear a year ago was that this conference would go unnoticed.

That hasn't happened, he said: "The world is watching... and this is the best chance we have of getting an agreement."

And that agreement, though not the legally-binding treaty originally hoped for, should enshrine all the elements of a legally binding treaty, officials say.

Physically what they're aiming for is a five or six page document that enshrines everything that a legally-binding treaty would, especially on finance.

The developing world has to believe that any pledges of money or help with technology will actually happen, or they could still walk way.

Then, later, the lawyers will get a chance to go through line-by-line to make sure each country can translate the agreement into law... a treaty.

There isn't the time for that to happen now. Crucially, the aim is that the agreement will include a deadline by which it should become a treaty - six months, or a year from now.

Talk of revolution

One British official indicated that the UK team, at least, is still optimistic, but does not underestimate the scale of the task for the next two weeks, describing this as a profound moment in history.

Their view is that the world is now in the endgame of extraordinarily sensitive negotiations, and that the reason this is all so hard is that these are trying to effect a revolution in the world's economies; economies that are built (and being built) on fossil fuels, especially in Asia.

Those countries have been working out if their economies can live with a shift away from fossil-fuelled growth to low carbon growth.

Yet there is still the belief that the presence of the 100 or so heads of state now signed up makes an ambitious deal more likely.

"Leaders don't like to meet and fail," as one official put it.

Even Yvo de Boer, the UN's climate chief, is sounding a little more upbeat as we enter the conference proper.

And just last night, South Africa came forward with an offer of cuts in emissions.

US opposition

There is a chance that US opposition to a climate bill could weaken the deal. Last week, nine senators whose votes are key in getting US climate legislation through the Senate, set out the 10 principles they require to secure their support.

But in their letter to Mr Obama they talked only of "national actions", not economy-wide caps.

The question is how far Mr Obama will feel he can go at Copenhagen and, if a deal is agreed, whether it will ever become a legally-binding treaty that makes its way into national legislation.

But then the optimistic voices remind us that they see the shift in the US position since President George W Bush left office as extraordinary, that the EU may yet raise its offer of 20% cuts in emissions to 30% by 2020 and that China too may yet go further in its offer to cut carbon intensity.

Negotiators admit that the Russians remain an unknown quantity. They continue to hold their cards close to their chests on their requirement from a global deal.

Indeed, they stand to make some gains from climate change - according to CIA assessments. Frozen territory in the north could become available for agriculture, and then there are the potential riches of the Arctic, exposed for exploitation.

Here's an interesting thought on those e-mails - who did it?

The files appeared on a Russian server, after a brief appearance on the RealClimate website.

Without wanting to sound too much like Crimewatch - what more do you know, out there?

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