The Worst of All Possible Worlds
Well, in a turnaround that is pretty dismal, even beyond what I thought might be the case, the talks have been extended into another day, a possible sign of collapse. So, it doesn’t look like anything is coming out of this conference, unless the delegates manage to come up with some last-minute, face-saving deal. However, it should be noted that, the last time the Parties to the UNFCCC tried to salvage a COP at the last minute, we ended up with the Copenhagen Agreement (PDF), a three-page, vaguely stated commitment, that the Parties only “took note” of – which meant, according to then-UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer: “…recognizing that something is there, but not going so far as to associate yourself with it.”
It’s not clear what this means for the GCF, the one element that seemed most likely to emerge. Nor is it necessarily the case that future COPs won’t end in meaningful commitment. However, for the time being at least, climate change will have to be governed by an inadequate, soft-law regime. Granted, the Parties may yet come up with something in the waning hours of the extension, and there have been no new webcasts or statements as yet (4:30pm Durban time), but that looks like the extent of it.