And the Dance Goes On

Corner Consultation

After Tuvalu’s call for a suspension of the COP yesterday, Steffen Schmidt was assigned the task of meeting informally with the parties to reach some resolution, the details of which were to be announced during the afternoon plenary.  Unfortunately, and somewhat predictably, the parties could not reach resolution in the few short hours allotted.

After announcing adjournment of the afternoon meeting, which focused largely on the issue of whether carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) should be included under the clean development mechanism (CDM) in the Kyoto Protocol, President Connie Hedegaard announced that she would have news regarding the suspension of the COP in the morning, as the informal meetings were to continue into the evening.

This morning was marked with much anticipation.  When we arrived in the plenary room, one of the first things I noticed was that the COP15 sign located directly behind the secretariat now included CPM5 under the logo, an obvious response to China’s concerns mentioned yesterday.  Shortly after the meeting commenced, Ian Fry, Tuvalu’s delegate, again took the mic to make clear that they wish for Kyoto to continue now and “into the future.”  To that end, he requested a contact group to review Tuvalu’s proposed amendments to the Kyoto Protocol. This was yet another clear declaration that Tuvalu strongly believes the negotiations should continue on two tracks and it was not endorsing a position that called for the death of Kyoto.  For those unclear with the two negotiations tracks proceeding at COP15, the first track focuses on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, specifically, whether it should continue past its expiration date in 2012 and, if so, how to define or amend the parties’ obligations going forward.  The second track is focused on the “long term cooperative action plan” discussed at the Bali Summit in 2007, which could lead to a new agreement that either complements Kyoto or supercedes it entirely.

Based on yesterday’s post, you can likely imagine that the room was again split.  Those who supported Tuvalu’s proposal did so emphatically, affirming the notion that a unified outcome can result from a two track system.  However, today, Egypt came out with one of the strongest statements in opposition, arguing that some of the amendments call for the destruction of Kyoto, any consideration of the LCA text is a “triplication of effort”, and finally, these proposals are simply negotiation tactics and strategies.

After hearing the parties voice their support and concerns, President Hedegaard ruled that because consensus was  again seemingly unattainable, she had no other choice but to call for informal meetings with the parties to reach resolution and reconvene to discuss the matter on Saturday.  Tuvalu again took the floor, maintaining it could not agree with the President’s conclusion, as the item on the agenda called for the parties to discuss proposed amendments to Kyoto.  Ian Fry made the not easily refuted argument that the President had no legal basis for denying his request for a contact group, emphasizing the fact that her seemingly procedural decision had far reaching substantive results.  The not so implicit suggestion was that Tuvalu and its supporters could walk if the President kept denying the requests for a transparent, open and formal process.  Moreover, a delay until Saturday would not allow for a full and complete discussion.  In response, several parties, including China, said they would be willing to discuss amendments, just not those amendments that appear to run contrary to Kyoto.

In a surprising turn of events, the President suspended the meeting for ten minutes to hold consultations with the interested parties in the corner of the plenary room.  Again, the major players could not reach consensus, leading to the suspection of the agenda item and the indefinite adjournmentof the meeting.  What this means for the upcoming days of the conference remains unclear, but the dividing line remains bright.