COP15 Copenhagen climate summit: Day 3
14.39 CET: So as I mentioned yesterday, I wanted to try and give you a quick look at how the UN climate conferences work - or how they don't.
I'll have to do it in bite-sized chunks, otherwise I risk your sanity as well as mine.
The official negotiations proceed along two "parallel tracks" that - in theory at least - have equal weight.
One is the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Co-operative Action (AWG-LCA) - the other the Ad-Hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP).
The remit of the second is a bit easier to set out, because the Kyoto Protocol already exists. The matters it is looking at include:
• commitments by developed nations still inside the protocol (the vast majority) to cut greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012
• how the Adaptation Fund is working
• and whether the number of greenhouse gases covered by the protocol should be increased.
The AWG-LCA is a little more nebulous. "Long-term co-operative action"...what is that?
Part of it is emission reductions from developed countries outside the Kyoto Protocol - especially, in this context, the US - and emission curbs from developing countries.
It includes financial mechanisms not covered by the Kyoto Protocol, such as the idea for a "quick-start" fund of $10bn per year proposed by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Another facet is the future shape and operation of the UN climate convention.
How discussions progress in these "tracks", though, is uneven. Sometimes there are plenary sessions in which virtually every country is represented, and sometimes negotiators break into smaller working groups to thrash through a specific issue (the AWG-KP currently has four such groups).
Mainly negotiators work from texts that could form the basis of an eventual treaty, but at the moment they're working from "non-papers" - issue-based documents that do not have the status of official text.
Aside from these two "tracks," there are the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).
Lots of technical assessments happen there - although still firmly influenced by politics, of course - on issues such as whether "clean coal" should be eligible for funding under the Clean Development Mechanism.
But this is just the formal stuff. Most of the really interesting and important stuff happens behind the scenes, in closed rooms, where positions are adopted and deals are done.
For more on that, I've included here a feature I made for the BBC radio programme The World Tonight - broadcast last week - in which some of the people who've been deeply involved in negotiations give some insights into how it really works.
18.57 CET: What a host of issues were raised today with the opening of a rift - I won't go so far as to call it a chasm - between small, relatively poor developing countries and some of their richer and more powerful brethren.
We will have to watch what happens because the plot lines change fast here; but potentially the stand of small island states and some of the poorer African countries will prove to be of major significance.
Countries most vulnerable to climate impacts have chosen the politically risky option of not only criticising the western industrialised powers, which is expected and routine, but also the Chinas and Indias and Brazils of this world.
They simply want all the big emitters to do more - to put tougher constraints on emissions than have been pledged so far - because they feel their survival as countries and cultures is at stake.
Intriguingly, the move has also raised very different reactions among the NGO community here.
Some groups see a split in the developing world bloc as disastrous. They say it is only through having been united for so long that they have gained strength in international negotiations - not only on climate change, but on trade and other issues.
Others feel that's an old-fashioned view; that the world has changed, and small nations need to extricate themselves from the powerful grip of the emerging economies and the Gulf states just as they once had to fight off the yoke of colonial powers.
In the conference hall today, we have been living in interesting times.