11.40 Apparently the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders are have left the plenary hall, where other leaders are gathered to hear Obama. Obama is not there either. The speculation is of further last minute discussions in this small group.

11.10 An update. We hear that the leaders group is mainly the G20 leaders, but with six or seven further  representatives of developing countries including small isalnd states. Apparently it has reconvened after a short break, but remains as deadlocked as the formal negotiations. The disagreement is apparently over ‘legal form’ which is code for the timing and structure of future negotiations. This suggests that there is still pressure on developing countries to agree to dump the Kyoto Protocol.

And although Obama apparently leaves again this afternoon, there is a rumour that the UN has advised delegations to make arrangements to stay until Sunday. Unfortunately that doen’t mean they are close to a deal, just managing political appearances. To use a football metaphor, you don’t get a replay until you’ve played extra time!

10.17 Political leaders and negotiators have both been working all night. But the negotiations remained deadlocked in almost every respect.

However, Obama has arrived and is expected to address the Plenary in the next hour. Unless he offers a further last-minute concession of deeper cuts – which seems implausible without Senate support – then all we can now expect is a political declaration. Many countries have lined up press conferences for about 1 pm local time today.

And it will be a political declaration dominated by the rich Annex 1 countries. Rumours are rife, but it seems realistic to expect committment to a 2ºC cap on temperature rise – which is too high, and worse, it will not be backed by adequate pledges of emissions cuts to deliver 2ºC or less (even in this non-binding form). As the leaked text revealed yesterday, existing pledges leave the world heading for 3ºC or greater warming

There has been optimism amongst NGOs that the EU might respond to the US offer to support a finance package by raising its emissions target to a 30% cut. But I fear that in a political declaration leaders could simply account for the EU at 30% when publishing an aggregate figure for cuts across Annex 1 countries, even while it remains conditional on other countries doing more too.

That wouldn’t be enough to trigger raised targets in the UK and other EU countries until after the COP reconvenes to turn any political declaration into a binding deal. It would leave the US with its unambitious targets. Real action to address the climate emergency would be further delayed.

Despite all this, for the developing world, a reconvened COP next summer, or even in a year’s time would be preferable to a rushed legal deal based on the current texts in front of negotiators. From the headline issues of targets and finance, to the loopholes – such as offsetting, carbon markets and hot air – riddling the texts, poor countries are set to lose out.

Naomi Klein today describes the deal on the table as the colonisation of the atmosphere by the rich world, and the finance offer as tantamount to offering beads for Manhattan. The beneficiaries of a rushed deal would be Wall Street and the City, not the people already living with climate change.

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