A global deal to tackle climate change is all but impossible in 2010, leaving the scale and pace of action to slow global warming in coming decades uncertain, according to senior figures across the world involved in the negotiations.
“The forces trying to tackle climate change are in disarray, wandering in small groups around the battlefield like a beaten army,” said a senior British diplomat.
An important factor cited is an impasse within the UN organisation charged with delivering a global deal, which will start assessing the pledges made by individual countries by a deadline that passed on Sunday night.
Many of those contacted say only a legally binding deal setting “top-down” global limits on emissions can ultimately avoid the worst impacts of rising temperatures.
But a global deal at the next major climate summit in Mexico is impossible, says the former deputy prime minister John Prescott, now the Council of Europe’s rapporteur on climate change.
Similar opinions are being expressed worldwide. “In 2010 perhaps we’ll manage some success, but I think a definitive deal is very difficult,” said Suzana Kahn, a key negotiator in Copenhagen and Brazil’s national secretary for climate change.