COP19 in OT at the National Stadium

IMG_4337The ADP was due to have finished the open-ended discussion of its most recent draft this morning by 11am.  It’s now almost midnight and at 8:37, the co-chairs announced a stop in the debate over Article 2(b) to break into smaller groups to conduct an “informal informal” about the competing proposals on the table.  The BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, China), supported by AILAC and a number of other developing countries, favor changing the language, to shift the focus from “nationally determined” commitments to something more internationally monitored.  They also are dismayed at how the Article 2 language (a – c) seems too mitigation oriented and doesn’t sufficiently signal adaptation, financing, and technology commitments.  (I wasn’t admitted until the discussion was some 20 minutes under way, so I may have missed something.)

Philippines talking to Singapore.

Philippines talking to Singapore.

The U.S., EU, New Zealand, and Chile support the original language.  Or, as a proferred fallback, an amendment offered by the Dominican Republic (instead of national commitments, “national preparations to determine their commitments”) which is acceptable to many of the parties.Although the negotiation was ostensibly about the words on paper, Bolivia’s negotiator posed the $100 billion question in the room: “where is the finance?”  He reminded everyone of the civil society walkout yesterday because “nothing” was achieved on loss and damage, finance, and technology transfer.  He stressed the need for quantified dollar commitments from developed countries before his country could agree to the proposed text.  And he stated in no uncertain terms that “there is no possibility to say there’s no money for adaptation, but there is money for war and spying; NATO spends $1trillion per year in wars alone.”  In the end, Bolivia and AILAC concluded that they have to have clear commitments or cannot go forward.

Venezuela (L), Bolivia (R)

Venezuela (L), Bolivia (R)

The Venezuelan lead negotiator followed up to agree with her colleague: no one can fool themselves about not having the money to make commitments happen, she began pointedly.  She looked straight at the co-chairs and told them in no uncertain terms that “you two have the opportunity in your hands to make this COP not a failure.” She went on to declare that “a blaming game is childish,” obliquely referring to “someone from a major developed country having blamed LMCs  (Like Minded Countries) for creating a  firewall between the majority who want this text and group of small countries who are getting in the way.”  (She later referred to this person as a she, confirming the reference to Connie Heddegard of the EU.)  The pace of Venezuela’s intervention intensified when she refuted the characterization of the AILAC countries (and implicitly, their concerns) as small:  “We represent 50% of the world’s population and are not a minor group.”  She finished by asking the chairs, “are you really listening? What’s next – will there be a text to take or leave at the closing plenary or do we face a Copenhagen situation?”

The co-chairs enjoying the break in action.

The co-chairs enjoy the break.

Co-chair Kishan was visibly irritated when he replied “we co-chairs will not take the blame for what the parties in the room have done.  The fact that no one in the room is happy with the text indicates that it is a party-driven process; if this COP fails, then everyone is equally responsible.”

The wise and well spoken negotiator from Colombia (who I’ve come to respect immensely this week) took the floor after this heated exchange, and in a calm but firm voice reminded everyone that “we’re not just negotiating a climate treaty, it is one of economies and societies.”  Depending on the language used, this COP “could prejudice the future of developing countries’ development.”  She sought to bridge the gap by noting that the annex had been watered down in terms of guidance, but that she (and others) could live with it in order to achieve consensus.

My ADP hero, the wise leader from Colombia (supporting the chair?)

My ADP hero, the wise leader from Colombia (supporting the chair?)

Having set out that concession, she confirmed that the language of nationally determined commitments was not acceptable because these emission reductions require international review to determine whether they will achieve the 2 degree C. cap that scientists have set.  She also asked for a clear timetable for these 2(b) commitments, to show ambition to the world community.  This, she stated, was a reasonable request, given that her group had let go of an assessment phase (in paragraph 6).  In the end, though, she grimly observed that she did “not feel that there is a sense of movement in the room.”

A scrum of negotiators.

A scrum of negotiators.

2(b) or not 2(b), that 'tis the question.

2(b) or not 2(b), that ’tis the question.

We’re now almost 3.5 hours into a break taken ostensibly to discuss an article containing 5 lines.  The entire draft document begins with a decision comprising a preamble and 7 articles, proceeds to a conclusion comprising 10 articles, and ends with an annex of bullet-pointed areas of further reflection.  Article 2(b) is thus a very small proportion of the words to be determined by this group.  Right now, at midnight, it’s very hard to imagine how the rest of the text will be resolved before COP19 sunsets, er sunrises?

Women's day continues at COP19.

Women’s day continues at COP19.

Stay tuned.  Very interesting.  And very open, once we got inside the door.  For negotiators vey freely mingled with us, and spoke with their colleagues just inches away.  Right now there is a lot of smaller group conversation and folks are quite chipper despite the hour.  I have a plane to catch tomorrow and won’t likely make it to the end. But I hope to at least here the conclusion of this round of informals.

 

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