Week ends with a whimper

The week wrapped up not with a bang, but with a whimper. Anyone hoping for measurable, significant progress head into the weekend disappointed. If there was any solace to be taken, it would maybe be that the delegates themselves seem to be getting impatient with the roadblock caused by U.S. inaction.

Specifically–America’s reluctance to put numbers on the table for mitigation targets and finance. In Friday morning’s meeting on mitigation for developed nations, Sweden made a loud and deliberate call for the mitigation targets. It’s all well and good to keep consolidating the text, they said, but let’s get straight to the core of this. Basically–let’s list the numbers!  There wasn’t any question in the room of who they were talking to. (In the end of the week “stock take” session, they made the same point, again in no uncertain terms: their first of eight points to assess where things stand was that it’s time to put mitigation numbers on the table.)

With hands tied by domestic politics, the U.S. strategy seems to be to push for a simpler treaty construct. In Friday morning’s meeting on mitigation for developed nations, Jonathan Pershing jumped into a discussion about a handful of paragraphs in the draft that he felt were important for the conversation, but not relevant for the text itself. “Let’s focus on operational paragraphs,” he offered, “focus on the operational language.”  It seemed a tough sell. The U.S. isn’t the most trusted delegation on the floor these days, and if they suggest cutting some text, countries are going to give it an extra, extra long look.