Nobody wants to go on record, but speaking candidly amongst each other, delegates do not seem to be overly optimistic.

I heard an Asian official advising colleagues to tell their heads of state to stay at home as there was not going to be any photo opportunity smile and handshake as no deal would be signed off.

A negotiator from Senegal compared the process to a conjuring trick, saying wealthy states were trying to negotiate a new deal to get themselves out of the commitments of the old one – Kyoto.

An American journalist who has been here since the talks began told me that the delegates had lost site of their goal and now seemed unsure about what they were even trying to negotiate as the talks had fragmented and factions adopted a bunker mentality.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, meanwhile, continued to stoke the flames of divisions between the developing and industrialised world, agreeing with African complaints that poor countries were being bullied and ignored.

He said it was delusional to think that the world was really ruled as a democracy and applauded the protesters outside for their criticism of weak agreements.

For a day billed as the big day for top brass to arrive, from Ministers to Presidents, there has been no real fanfare and more angry, low muttering that the talks are going to fail to deliver.

Sam Bond

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