The successes of Cancun are now widely reported and praised in the media: the establishment of a Green Climate Fund, positive text on REDD+, and the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period extended a lifeline until Durban next year. The parties agreed in spite of Bolivia’s objections that the texts did not do enough to counter climate change’s dangers.
The COP 16 in Cancun talks were a reversal of those at COP 15 in Copenhagen last year. Low expectations yielded surprising success here, whereas in Copenhagen high hopes were dashed. A tremendous amount of credit must be accorded the Mexican government. The facilities were well laid out and polished, access was not impeded, the shuttles ran on time, certainly Mexico’s efficient hosting and administering permeated every aspect of the working environment. As well, Pres. Calderón was deeply involved and troubleshooting intensely throughout.
I’ll post more about aspects of the experience later, for now I’m inserting pictures that I was able to capture of some of the memorable sights.
A group of young people count in whispers to the number of climate-change related deaths while individuals among them punctuate the chant with accounts of particular tragedies like flood and mudslide deaths
A protester jeers Japanese PM Naoto Kan's opposition to extending the Kyoto Protocol
Mexican First Lady Margarita Zavala de Calderón is center at this empowerment of women climate change side event that said in fact the Convention was empowering women
Paragraph 102 in LCA Draft: Text Calls for Green Climate Fund
I fought off packs of wilding diplomats and dispatched with a “hey, wait a second” a sneaky fellow in a three-piece who cut in front of me and the 75 others behind me when I looked away for a moment while waiting in the building-long line to get my hot copy of the AWG-LCA (Advanced Working Group Long-term Cooperative Action) draft that was released late this afternoon. The “Green Climate Fund” is there at page 18, line item 102: “Decides to establish a Green Climate Fund, to be designated as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention under Article 11…” Magical words; of course the plenary hasn’t voted to adopt them or any of it just yet.
The Fund is to be governed by a 24-member board, 12 from developed nations and 12 from developing nations. There is to be an interim trustee: the WorldBank. The language says though, paraphrased in rough language, that the board calls the shots and the trustee is just holding the money. To consider the finance is one of the the main reasons I came down here, and these simple paragraphs middle of a dual-stapled 32 page handout are really exciting to me. I’ll see if I can snap a picture.
Now, nothing here says the Fund is to be $100 billion unto itself by 2020. But the document is very suggestive, given the Copenhagen Accord context and reference to “significant share of new multilateral funding,” that the fund is to be substantial. I’m pleased about it, of course perhaps someone will accidentally hit delete on the whole section.
There’s also the “Technology Mechanism” decision on page 20, at line item 117. That’s to come with a Technology Executive Committee, and –this is just wonderful– a “Climate Technology Centre and Network.” That’s good for now, I’ll evaluate this more later. Yes, like I say, my optimism about this could be entirely crushed later, but it seems like the incremental steps on funding and tech transfer could be successfully materializing. Kyoto Protocol negotiations are not doing as well. Not sure about REDD-plus.
NGO Panel w. Union of Concerned Scientists, World Wildlife Federation, Climate Action Network
The NGO panel faulted some familiar parties for “throwing spanners in the [gears]” of the negotiations, and pointed out some new targets of criticism. The U.S. was faulted on some things like Green Climate Fund negotiations and uncalled-for quarreling about MRVS, but Canada and Russia and particularly Japan were faulted for endangering prospects for Kyoto Protocol successor or second period.
Raman Mehta of Climate Action Network laments U.S. obstruction w. regard to the Green Climate Fund. The U.S. wants a GEF-like (Global Environmental Facility) arrangement, he said, not anything new. Why do the same-old-same-old? There are plenty of random funds that have been around the block, but the Copenhagen Agreement said a new form of fund should be established, he said. I’ve heard previous analysis at the COP that the U.S pushes for a dominant role for the WorldBank.
Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists reported the inside dope from negotiators that the U.S. and a few like-minded others have been playing a miserly bargaining game. “Holding hostages” he said, on the MRV (Measure/Report/Verify) terms, and causing problems on drafting a “Shared Vision” document. Meyer said decisions in one track are affecting the other tracks. How can the AWG-LCA go forward in the absence of AWG-KP agreements? The G-77 (large group of developing nations) won’t go along with it.
Masako Konishi of World Wildlife Fund and the others talked about the basis of recent strong criticism of Japan. They said it has taken a very hardline refusal on extending Kyoto, and it did this at a disastrously late date. If Japan had objected 6 months ago for instance, the other developed countries could have worked to overcome these difficulties. The surprise timing has poisoned the atmosphere. The Financial Times says Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan is “living in a fantasy,” Konishi said, holding up an orange-pink newspaper. The fantasy is that Japan can abandon the Kyoto Protocol without wrecking any global treaty overall. Japan’s position is that Kyoto only covers 27% of the world’s emissions, whereas Copenhagen Accord covers much more. “We need [both]” said Konishi.
Russia and Canada are also not going along with Kyoto Protocol negotiations. If the intention of any of this is to exert leverage on the United States, a panelist said, it will have the opposite effect. U.S. domestic politics will consider Japan’s refusal to continue Kyoto as just another excuse not to cut its own emissions
I wanted to get a copy of the revised proposals, latest draft texts, and so forth. So I gathered with the others at the documents counter. It was like stage-side at a Beyonce concert for a bit there, a lot of people jostling for position for these texts. There are various interpretations on what’s been going on, the bargaining stances of various parties, and some perhaps-justified fingerpointing, but few are really sure what the final products are going to be. So it was an intense crowd waiting for documents for a bit there. Particularly in demand, but not yet out, was the text for AWG-LCA. That’s the Long-term Cooperative Action one. AWG-KP (Kyoto Protocol) was less in demand. I got the latest there, will describe it later. I got the draft decision for the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism). Back in Ceiba Room at the plenary, it’s pretty near a full-house. There’s a buzz of anticipation. The VP just started speaking, here we go.
The Plenary Session at Ceiba Room, 12:15 pm 10 Dec. 2010
The open plenary meeting wrapped up in Ceiba room earlier, there’s another scheduled for three. No final text has been released. There’s a U.S. press conference in 10 minutes at Sol room, I’m hustling over.
I attended the side event yesterday where the authors of the High-Level Advisory Group on Financing (AGF) discussed their report, which came out about a month ago. The co-chairs (Presidents Stoltenberg of Norway and Zenawi of Ethiopia) were both present, as was UN Sec. Gen. Moon. That report said the goal set by Copenhagen Accord of 100 billion dollars annually by 2020 can be met by grants, concessional development bank loans, carbon market finance, etc. At the panel, some examples were pointed out, among them reallocating aid money now subsidizing fossil fuels, which was said to potentially net $10 billion. They cast the report as a “tool-box ” of financing options. They said it was up to the states’ parties at the COP to find a way to use the tools, and which to use more frequently and such. They said that the real achievement of the AGF was that a diverse group of world-class experts, from developing and developed countries, had agreed on the report, and that this was a model for the COP. The real results are being accomplished, or not, by the negotiators in closed session right now.
On the shuttle bus route from Cancunmesse (where the side events, NGO booths, and such are) to the site of the COP itself, Moon Palace (an ornate conference facility) there’s recently-erected wind turbine. I snapped this shot of it yesterday morning. It was built for functionality (1.5 megawatts) and as a symbol that inspires the delegates here. It was built by Acciona, a Spanish company. Mexico is a “developing country” under the UNFCCC, and thus eligible for climate aid, but this turbine was commissioned by Mexican Federal Electric. Wind farms are criticized in some areas as being unsightly, and indeed this is only one, not thirty, yet it looks very regal and nice there. It was turning real well in very light wind the day before but yesterday morning it was becalmed. We had a little wind last night, I’m sure it was spinning fine again.
Dan here. We’re observing the main COP meeting. Us observers sit in the back here behind the plenary’s parties at their tables, but we can see the various presidents and prime ministers and other ministers clearly across the vast Ceiba room. Pres. Rafael Correa of Ecuador spoke about accountability 20 minutes ago, but I was struck by the forceful phrase of Pres. Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana a few moments ago. Jagdeo urged our global community of 2010 to avoid being “the stupid generation.” Let us not be the generation that ignores science’s projection on climate change damage. He pointed to the work of the IPCC, and said we must heed that, and a recent UNEP report saying that the Copenhagen Accord’s goals were not on schedule to be reached. He said we must reassert “science as the driver.” It was jarring to hear it phrased that way, but it is fair comment I think for Pres. Jagdeo to urge the world in our time not to be “the stupid generation.” I have been looking at the side event hall at Cancunmesse for climate skeptics, as I’ve heard are sometimes sent by the fossil fuels industry and others, but I haven’t seen any.
We’re at the COP, at the Zocota room, via closed circuit video, watching the opening ceremony of the High Level Segment at the building next door. There was a great opening with colorfully and fiercely costumed dramatic dancers. The panel of high level officials is now speaking. They are urging on all the parties, to bring their hard and detailed negotiations of the last week and an half to a successful conclusion at an higher level these last four days. Right now President Calderone of Mexico. He’s saying a number of things can’t wait. “No puede esperar.”
At the beginning, though UNFCCC head Christina Figueres spoke. “Fairness must guide long-term efforts,” she said. “If your country’s position is not reconciling with that of others, think of the common good. Don’t ask for compromise, offer it.” She concluded “there will be reporting and certainly verifying,” perhaps alluding to the U.S.’s past criticisms of China’s MRV (measurement/reporting/verification) actions. I’ve read reliable press accounts that our objections on this score have eased.
U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki Moon then spoke. “Nature will not wait while we negotiate. The time for waiting while faulting others is over. We must not wait for the perfect. Action now. Cooperation, we will form a long-term response, every country among us. We must act as united nations.” He called for realizing the 100 billion dollar climate aid by 2020 agreed to in the Copenhagen Accord. I was impressed with Sec. Moon’s ability to orate in English, a language not native to him. He spoke with great feeling.
Chichen Itza, Not Far from Site of COP 16
The solution to the climate change problem can be reached incrementally, I say. The climate change solution is a structure at the summit of a Mayan pyramid that can be ascended from different sides, a step or a few at a time, on each side. REDD-plus is one such expanse of steps: counter-deforestation, reforestation, agriforesty, improving the lives of native peoples around and in forest carbon sinks. Technology transfer is another stair. Imagine what would have been the greenhouse gas reduction accrued since the time of Edison and Tesla if an advanced society had provided the now-developed countries detailed plans for solar panels and wind turbines, and startup grants thereto. Or if Henry Ford had been handed the plans and necessary technical assistance to manufacture Toyota Priuses. The Green Climate Fund (8,10) outlined in the Copenhagen Accord last year is another set of surmountable stone steps pointing to the pyramid’s pinnacle. The CGCF calls for $100 billion climate aid annually by 2020, for adaptation to the least-developed countries, and mitigation all around the developing world. It calls for substantial aid in the meantime too, $30 billion annually through 2012. These are increments that can be accomplished to a very meaningful extent at COP 16. I’ve given three examples, a Mayan pyramid has four sides, but there are many sides of the climate change solution that can be incrementalized and ascended in Cancun, a step or few or several at a time.