The final two days of COP 16 have arrived, which means that the atmosphere here has changed, with a greater sense of urgency and consistently later nights.

Now is when ministers and negotiators get down to trying to draft what is termed ‘compromise language’ (i.e. words that nobody likes, but everyone can live with) and the real deals begin to be made.

Unfortunately, Japan appears to be standing firm on its initial statement that it won’t sign on to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. This is potentially a big problem, because it’s not something that they have softened on since they started saying it last week. And that means that in order to get Japan into a second commitment period countries are likely to start having to make real compromises behind the scenes.

Negotiations went late into the night last night, with ministers meeting on the key issues of finance, mitigation (i.e. pledges to reduce emissions) and the legal outcome of the negotiations.

A new proposal has been put on the table from the EU/the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Costa Rica which proposes that a legally binding instrument would be created in Durban next year, in an attempt to find a solution to the legal question of what will happen in the Long-term Co-operative Action track.

What makes this proposal different is that it has been made by both developing and developed countries in an attempt to bridge the gap between these two blocks of countries. The ministers are currently discussing this, but at the moment what will happen to the proposal remains unclear.

A deadline of finishing the negotiations by 6pm on Friday (Mexican time – which is 8 hours behind South African time) has been set, but with everything still to play for it’s going to be tough to get everything finalised in time.

Watch this space…