If it’s Thursday of the first week of a COP, it must be about “the text” – and indeed it is.
In this case it is the LCA (Long Term Co-Operative Action) Chair’s text that is causing consternation amongst the Parties. The LCA broke to an informal meeting yesterday where the U.S. followed, by some other Parties, rather vigorously objected to the Chair’s interpretation of his mandate. It seems all too familiar, a fight about process when we really need to get down to the substantive issues at hand. There is no doubt that a fight about process plays nicely into the hands of those countries who don’t want to make progress. Civil society is encouraging the Parties to work on the substantive issues that will make or break Doha (i.e finance and equity) and stop wasting limited negotiating time over what really amounts to petty bickering.
Negotiators in the Kyoto Protocol have not been able to get past the stalemate that has more or less existed since the close of Durban. Divisions remains over the carry over of the ‘hot air’ credits (Poland is insisting on retaining them) and the length of the commitment period, with AOSIS (small island nations) wanted a shorter commitment period so that countries can ramp up their targets. The EU and Australia prefer an 8 year period.
At this early juncture it looks like the negotiators do not have mandates that will allow them to move forward, leaving it all for Ministers next week. This could happen in the LCA track as well. No doubt that by next Friday night Ministers will be wishing for the luxury of time while crucial negotiating days are being frittered away.
Just to keep it real, the World Meteorological Organization today released its provisional annual statement on the state of global climate. Their finding: despite the cooling effects of La Nina, 2012 is trending to be one of the 9th warmest years on record. The report highlighted the drastic loss of Arctic sea ice, disappearing at a faster rate than the IPCC predicted. In August, the Arctic sea ice lost an average of nearly 92,000 square kilometers of ice per day—the fastest observed loss for the month of August on record. The report notes the difference between the maximum Arctic sea ice extent on March 20th, 2012 and the lowest minimum extent on September 16th, was 11.83 million square kilometers—the largest seasonal ice extent loss in the 34-year satellite record.
Finally it is incredibly inspiring to see a whole new movement in the Arab Region come on display at this COP. Only two months ago, the Arab Youth Climate Movement was founded in a region which is not currently short on challenges. Over 100 Arab youth are represented at COP 18. Reema al Mealla of Bahrain participated in today’s CAN press conference and talked about the challenges of engaging delegations that have never been engaged by national civil society representatives before and the plans AYCM has to take their activism to the entire region after COP 18.
Despite thousands members of civil society attending the COP-18 (and among those hundreds of youth), the voices of the many communities will not be directly represented at the conference. YOUNGO, the platform facilitating the participation of young people in the climate negotiations, launched the “connected voices” initiative a couple of months ago. Connected Voices aims at ensuring that their aspirations and expectations could be reflected in Doha. Under the lead of the New Zealand Youth Delegation, youth activists participating to the Conference committed to speak at the COP-18 not only for their own priorities but also to embody the vision of those young people who have not had the opportunity to be represented in Doha. Yesterday, YOUNGO reminded negotiators that these voices matter too. Read the post >>
Observers have described repeatedly their frustrations with the slow pace of the climate talks over the past months when moving forward from the “Durban Platform” and their fear that some of the least constructive parties might still push for a train wreck to prevent discussions on increasing the ambition of their climate policies. In this context, many hold onto the hope that the US climate policy will finally take off as president Obama emphasized since his reelection his commitment to address climate change. Many were thus deeply confused by the news of the recent signature by the president of a bill banning US aviation from complying with the EU aviation pollution levee. Nikki Hodgson shared with us her dismay at the timing of this decision, as the EU had taken an important step to deescalate the dispute and while negotiators from across the world already face challenges at building trust in Doha. Read the post >>
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About the AuthorKarl Burkart is the Digital Communications Director for the GCCA, the Global Call for Climate Action, and TckTckTck, a network of 400+ diverse organizations working around the world for greater action on the growing problem of climate change. Karl also blogs on technology and the environment for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter @greendig.
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