Posted on behalf of Abbie Gruwell, a political science major at the University of Iowa:
The atmosphere inside the Bella Centre today is palpably tense. Entrance restrictions continued and security is getting increasingly tighter. We arrived at 7:00 this morning to guards, protesters, and a series of blockades that we were herded through like cattle. Many NGO's were not admitted and several groups have been stripped of their accreditation altogether. Even a leader from the Brasilian delegation was denied access through security, a point embarrassingly brought up in the general session.
There is a general feeling of anticipation and dread about the negotiations as the heads of state begin their national addresses this afternoon. The resignation of Connie Hedegaard this morning highlighted the secrecy of the proceedings, even though the plenary sessions are thankfully being broadcast in the main rooms. Statements coming out of the negotiators are saying that her resignation is a matter of protocol due to the high status level of the negotiators, but there are doubts.
As I type, there are protesters (soon to be removed, I'm sure) chanting in the plenary rooms for more substantive action. The various drafts that have come out of the Copenhagen negotiations so far have been tabled temporarily, but will be brought up again this afternoon. One of the more interesting alliances came out of frustration with the G77 refusal to move - Nicholas Sarkozy of France and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia (allegedly on behalf of the African nations) have formed the 'Copenhagen Accord' that would bind signers to $10 billion over three years for adaptation. This has since been condemned by the African civil society.
The United States managed to project a clear commitment in John Kerry. His speech this morning was firm and inspirational. He challenged those at home and abroad to either legitimately provide scientific findings that disprove climate change or get out of the way of progress. "We are reaching the limits of how far we can go if we go it alone," he said of the negotiation stalemate. "The science itself is demanding action from all of us."
Kerry noted that success in Copenhagen is critical to progress in the U.S. Senate, and he assured the global community that the U.S. Congress will absolutely pass a comprehensive climate bill in the coming year. He included several provisions that will be necessary for the bill to pass, including carbon pricing. Somehow, the Congress will have to address the issue of differentiated responsibility and take action to close the gap between countries that have contributed the most to climate change and those that will suffer from it. Kerry closed with the following: "It is time for all of us to act boldly... We need to trust the science, [and] trust each other". Hopefully Obama was listening.