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Report from Copenhagen: Negotiations Heat Up, Tuvalu Fights for Survival

Tuvalu has a plan it hopes may keep the country above water.
 
 
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This post is part of Friends of the Earth sponsoring Open Left. Please check out the Friends of the Earth website here.

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Over the last day in Copenhagen, heated debates and surely thousands of conversations here in the conference center have focused on what the legal outcome of the climate negotiations should be -- and how to get there.

You may have seen some news stories over the past two days talk about actions by delegates from the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu -- whose existence as an island above sea level is literally at stakein climate talks. Here's how Rachel Morris at Mother Jones described Tuvalu's move:

On Wednesday Tuvalu's longtime climate adviser, an Australian named Ian Fry, grabbed the spotlight at Copenhagen by halting talks until negotiators considered a new, legally binding climate protocol that Tuvalu wants adopted instead of merely a political agreement. Tuvalu's alternative treaty outlines more drastic emissions reductions aimed at preventing temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Some stories describing Tuvalu's move (including the one above) have suggested that it's caused a rift to open between developing countries. A lot of this coverage is missing a key point: the differences of opinion between developing countries are about tactics, not substance; they're about how to get the best legally binding deal out of Copenhagen. Jargon aside (and there is a heck of a lot of jargon here – I think of UN climate negotiations as “acronym city”) -- developing countries remain firmly united in demanding (1) that rich countries commit to binding emission reductions targets in line with science and justice, and (2) that rich countries provide adequate funding for developing countries to address climate change.

Read on for more about the tactical implications of Tuvalu's move and some footage of the powerful action by African activists and parliamentarians from Tuesday.

 
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