This morning at 10am GMT, COP22/CMP12/CMA1 kicked off with an opening ceremony that included a local drumming corps. About 10 hours later, it closed with a welcome reception filled with lutes and violins.
In between, the opening plenaries of the three major governance groups – COP22 or the 22nd meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC; COP12 or the 12th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol; and CMA1 or the 1st meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Paris Agreement – reviewed the agenda items to be negotiated during the next two weeks. Likewise, the three major subsidiary bodies – SBI or the Subsidiary Body on Implementation; SBSTA or
the SB for Scientific and Technical Advice; and APA or the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement – reviewed agenda items to be negotiated during this week only. Given the short timeline for reaching recommendations, the SBs and APA quickly set to work.
So too did the VLS Observer Delegation. The first week team, which includes 4 third-year law students and 1 LLM student, started tracking the issues they’ve researched this semester: adaptation; loss and damage; agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU); NDCs and other reporting requirements; and the new transparency framework described by the Paris Agreement. In addition to blogging about what they’ve observed at negotiation sessions and side events, our student delegates support our service learning partner, the Myanmar State Party Delegation. We provided pre-COP briefing memos on these issues to Myanmar and now will attend meetings, take notes, and brief the delegation daily. It’s a full agenda.
While the Parties largely got to work developing the Paris Agreement “rule book” that will be needed to implement the Agreement, the COP22 plenary was not without some procedural fireworks. When asked to adopt the agenda – the most fundamental of starting blocks – a recent addition proposed by Turkey became a lightening rod. Throughout the climate change negotiations, Turkey has occupied a complicated position as an OECD country whose economy doesn’t fit neatly into the Annex I and Annex II country listings in the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol. As the firm wall that separated developed country (Annex I & II) and developing country (non-Annex 1) treaty obligations began to soften during the Paris Agreement negotiations, Turkey asked for special recognition by the COP that would give it access to the GCF (for finance) and the CTCN (for technology development and transfer). These requests were not addressed in the Paris Agreement nor the COP21 decision adopting it. Instead the COP21 presidency agreed to address the issue informally before COP22. With the issue still unresolved, Turkey now using the rules of procedure to make it a formal COP22 agenda item, and several negotiating groups opposing it, the newly elected COP22 President Salaheddine Mezouar took charge: he stepped down from the dais and “huddled” with the Turkish delegation for more than a half hour, seeking a solution to the impasse (that was holding up adopting the COP22 agenda). In the end, Turkey agreed to continue consultations with the presidency and the COP adopted its agenda with this issue pending. Onward to the substance of the agenda.