Posted on behalf of Abbie Gruwell, a political science major at the University of Iowa:
If you pay attention to the major news sources, the compelling stories out of Copenhagen today would appear to be the massive demonstrations and angry NGO's. Today the Danish police reached for new tactics to hold back the protesters outside the Bella Centre, not stopping short of tear gas and baton beatings. Of course, these are the images that hit CNN and the voices that allegedly represented world youth.
For those of us actually focused on the task at hand, the real story was a painful waiting game and much needed movement toward higher level negotiations. After talks resumed this afternoon, very little information came out of the deliberations. It seemed that delegates and U.N. officials alike were finally getting down to business, even forgoing press-filled speeches to actually do work. Maybe if our leaders had felt this kind of desperation a week and a half ago we would have an ambitious, binding framework.
One of the most exciting parts of the afternoon were the speeches by the Heads of State, such as Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Ian Fry of Tuvalu, and other high profile leaders. Many were passionately in support of the G77 and China position for more intensive negotiations and a two-track plan. Tomorrow Ahmadinejad and Manmohan Singh promise to make it an exciting day.
One success that is predicted to come out of this week is the REDD document. The agreement aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and has been one of the only discussions that bore any fruit. Although there are still a few things to work out, it seems the most optimistic section of the comprehensive bill. There were several issues of contention about the REDD policy, most notably the rights of indigenous peoples. Amazingly, the final draft was presented today and REDD is predicted by the Environmental Defense Fund to be the most concrete thing that comes out of Copenhagen. At least there is something we can agree on.