Obama will be there. The Backstreet Boys will be there. Streakers and hunger strikers and Nepali Sherpas will be there. And so will I: Matthew Knott, humble Crikey Copenhagen Climate Change correspondent, at your service.

From the colour, conflict and craziness on the streets to the Survivor-like tactical manoeuvres in the back-room negotiations, I’ll be on the ground from day one, blogging, photographing, video diarising, tweeting, unleashing carrier pigeons — whatever it takes to keep you informed.

Among the protests I’ll cover will be a December 13 attempt by environmentalists to shut down Copenhagen Harbour to highlight the need for shipping to be included in a global agreement. And on December 16, with the conclusion to the talks drawing near, activists will try to disrupt negotiations and turn the conference venue into a true “peoples assembly”.

I’ll also bring you interviews with expert analysts to keep track of how negotiations are progressing — and whether Australia is playing the role of leader or a laggard.

As we all know, a successor to Kyoto — that is to say, a legally binding international climate change agreement — will not be finalised at Copenhagen. This leaves three options.

First, the talks could go all Liberal-Party-under-Malcolm-Turnbull on us and implode, with anger among developing nations at the rich world’s intransigence leading to mass walkouts (a la the pre-Copenhagen talks in Barcelona) and a complete breakdown in negotiations.

A second scenario —  more likely, yet perhaps more frightening — is an APEC-style “political declaration” that makes the world leaders look like heroes but avoids any concrete steps to get emissions down.

Thirdly, and the best we can hope for, is as ambitious deal that lays the foundations for a legally binding agreement to be signed next year. Erwin Jackson, of the Climate Institute, says that Copenhagen will be a success if we see:

  • A commitment to keep the global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius.
  • Emissions reduction targets of 25-40 % by 2020 from the industrialised world (on 1990 levels).
  • Emissions reduction targets of 15-30 % by 2020 from the developing world (on business as usual).
  • Mechanisms to finance adaptation and mitigation efforts in the developing world.

So will it be get out the champagne or get out the sandbags? At the moment, only Gaia knows. But after Copenhagen we should have a clearer idea about whether mankind is smart enough to hold back the tides. It’s going to be quite an interesting two weeks …

Peter Fray

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