The conduct of the climate talks in Copenhagen have come to resemble WTO dynamics, not because the African Union has “Seattled” Copenhagen, but because the United States and E.U. countries are practicing the same intransigent, arrogant tactics which are so thoroughly despised in a WTO context.The fault lines of this conference are brutally clear: compensation for the ecological/climate debt incurred by rich, heavy greenhouse gas polluters like the United States, aggressive targets for those same countries and the preservation of the Kyoto protocol. Now, in the final few days remaining in COP15, the rich, developed countries are still trying to find a way to avoid the inevitable sacrifices they must make. There is major pressure being placed on developing countries to break ranks.

Small meetings, with a minister and one or two delegates at a time are being held to try to turn the solidarity of the G77 and China around. Attempts are being made to bribe smaller, vulnerable countries with modest amounts of short-term adaptation financing in return for accepting an agreement that goes easy on the major developed economies. Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations Secretary General has been enlisted to amplify the pressure on developing nations. He is arriving in Copenhagen today and plans to meet first with the Danish prime minister, then with leaders from the African group of nations and AOSIS, the small island nation negotiating group.

The New York Times yesterday referred to “ministers from around the globe… working through the weekend in small groups behind closed doors.” That innocuous sounding description refers to a major subversion of the U.N. process. The negotiations which occur here at the Bella Center are a consensus process, with all countries theoretically having an equal ability to influence the outcome. Replacing those discussions with offsite meetings among small groups of hand-picked delegates behind closed doors does major violence to the trust which must be built between negotiating parties.