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This guide, published by the International Institute for Environment and Development, provides journalists with the lowdown on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change summit in Copenhagen in December 2009.

It begins with a brief summary of the scientific and political background and then explains how past talks in Rio, Kyoto and Bali have led to Copenhagen.

The author spells out the competing interests of nations and why the negotiating blocks are formed — all the while explaining the key differences in the positions of developed and developing countries.

The briefing describes the two parallel negotiating tracks under the Copenhagen umbrella and the possible outcomes to the negotiations. It concludes with brief notes on "hot topics and sticking points" such as forest protection, intellectual property rights, fossil fuels and finance.

The author believes the meeting is "perhaps the most important meeting since the end of the Second World War" and also describes it as "the world's biggest poker game". The mass media will play a key role in shaping public opinion about the summit and its outcomes.

Link to full guide from the IIED

This guide was written by Mike Shanahan of the International Institute of Environment and Development.