25% or 45%? Copenhagen comes down to a numbers game
12 Dec 2009
Michael McCarthy on the battle over emissions cuts that is dividing the world
They call them square brackets - the pieces of text about which negotiators have not yet agreed, and so are bracketed off. And yesterday at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, the most important square brackets in history were revealed.
They showed the upper and lower limits of the world's ambitions to cut the emissions of carbon dioxide which are causing climate change. They are vastly different, and imply enormous differences in the scale of effort involved, yet beginning today, ministers from more than 190 countries have less than a week to choose between them.
For the agreement to fight global warming which the international community hopes to sign next Friday, with 115 world leaders from Barack Obama down smiling and shaking hands on it in the Danish capital, has to have numbers in - but which ones?