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
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.
Prof. Burleson, Dan Mill_r & Prof. Garvey at Cancunmesse
Dan and I were e-introduced to Elizabeth Burleson from USD Law School by Betsy Baker. The three of us were able to meet in person at Cancunmesse and had an opportunity to exchange thoughts on the COP. Prof. Burleson was one of many observers who told us that in the specific negotiations she observed, delegates were working from different texts. In contrast to Rio, which was a signing ceremony, here the delegates are practically creating text from scratch in some cases.
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.
It is impossible to know how the wikiLeaks regarding the US strategy during COP 15 will affect the outcome of COP 16. There are certainly more disussions about democratic process and trust.
Not only have the WikiLeaks affected the level of trust, but they have also distracted some delegates from the work at hand. Even during side events, the Q&A session involves more questions from the audience about trust and transparency from the U.S.
Some NGOs are taking advantage of the leaks and using info from the leaks to offer recommendations to the ‘spied on’ country. For example see this article about wikileaks and Saudi Arabia,
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.