Friday, December 12, 2008

Not much progress in Poznan...We need to pick up the pace to Kopenhagen!

Well, the meetings are over and for a lot of us it is hard to shake the feeling that have wasted our time here and over the last year. Of course on particular topics there has been movement and evolution. On my focal area of land use, land use change and forestry, things are moving and the understanding and analysis of what needs to change has advanced a lot within the environmental community.

And the talks over the last year have seen constructive proposals from the likes of China, South Africa, Mexico, Norway.... but the major industrialized nations of the World have not been acting with the required resolve or urgency to put this new agreement in place.

On the positive side, the bare minimum outcome needed here was achieved: the Chairs of the working groups have a mandate to formally kick off negotiations on legal text on the new agreement in 2009. So despite the delay, it is still possible AND CRITICALLY IMPORTANT, to reach a deal by Copenhagen next December.

I'm coming home now to enjoy the snow!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Parties fail Indigenous Peoples and Biodiversity

The negotiations on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries) have concluded and have failed Indigenous Peoples and Biodiversity.

Early drafts of the decision included recognition of the interests and rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (plural). The final draft only makes reference to participation of Indigenous People (singular).

Despite the efforts of environmental groups and some Parties, the importance of protecting biodiversity was also kept out of the decision.

Here is the intervention read in plenary by the Climate Action Network:

Madam Chair,

A year has passed since Bali, and what has been done?

What progress has been made on Indigenous and community rights?

How will REDD protect biodiversity?

What emissions will be counted and what rules will be applied?

The two SBSTA workshops coming into this meeting made real progress on methodological issues, which you intended to carry further here.

The CBD AHTEG advice on biodiversity was received and welcomed by some Parties.

Indigenous peoples asked to be heard, so when the Secretariat invited them, they came expecting to have a voice.

Instead, all reference to their rights and interests has been deleted.

Your negotiating text does not even refer to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And the removal of that “S” was critical.

A failure of political will has also seen the results of the workshops and the advice of the CBD ANTEG languish here.

We remind you all: the preservation of biodiversity is not a co-benefit; it is fundamental to the success and goals of REDD.

Our task here today is to protect the biological heritage of our earth and the rights and interests of all of its peoples. SBSTA has failed this crucial imperative.

It is our hope that ministers will now pick up what SBSTA has dropped.

Thank you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Decision on REDD looming.

Parties were locked in long negotiations today on a REDD decision to come out of the "Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice." One of the biggest issues that environmental groups are pushing for is that this mechanism be focused on accounting gross emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Last year in Bali, the waters were muddied with suggestions that the mechanism could also include forest management and 'conservation' measures and carbon enhancement. The fear is that this mechanism that was concieved to be a vehicle to reduce emissiosn from deforestation would be turned into something that allows deforestation or degradation to take place, while rewarding the creation of monoculture plantations.

We should see in the morning whether SBSTA has come to a strong conclusion on the focus and methodological approach to REDD.

What we're watching for in the middle of the week is the conclusion of the discussions here on the Kyoto Protocol. The big question is whether Parties will include strong language on the range of emission reductions for Annex 1 Parties (industrialized nations minus the U.S., which didn't ratify Kyoto). The goal is strong language committing Parties to a 25-40% reduction range by 2020.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Poznan, Poznan, Wherefore art thou Poznan?

...I'm not sure that title makes any sense, but I've been working for 19 hours straight now, my eyes are bleary and my mind is not quite working right... it's a UN climate change negotiation!

What did I do today?

I woke up at 5:45 am to take the bus and tram into the conference centre to attend the daily briefing that the Canadian Climate Change Ambassador and Head of the Canadian delegation offers every day to us civil society folks.

I ran off to a meeting of the political coordination group of the Climate Action Network.

From there I rushed (a few minutes late) to a meeting of my Working Group on LULUCF.

From there off to a plenary meeting on the means for industrialized nations to reach their Kyoto targets.

Then what....? A blur that included a working lunch, a CAN daily meeting, a session of working to agree on some forest accounting rules to put forward here to countries, sent emails, read emails, had hallway conversations, had a working dinner, met with a country delegate and planned a meeting for tomorrow, went looking for someone I was supposed to meet and checked and wrote emails while waiting for my coat at the coat check... got outside, bought more time for my phone, went back inside to prepare tomorrow's meeting...

...took a crazy cab ride home at 11pm!

...then I started working some more on the options paper we want to put out tomorrow and discuss in our meetings. And it's 12:45am and I'm waiting for some comments to come in so I can finish the thing off, go to bed, and sleep for 3 hours and 45 minutes until the whole routine starts over again!!


I'll post our options paper tomorrow so you can see the fruits of our labour (it's only two pages!!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Running around, running around, running around, BREATH!

Day 3 at the Poznan climate change talks! Sorry I missed posting on Day's probably more realistic to try to post every second day.; when more than 5 hours of sleep is a luxury, it is hard to fit in all that should be done.

Negotiators on LULUCF met in an informal closed session yesterday and decided to meet only one more time on Saturday during these talks. The outcome of this meeting will be a decision to call on Parties for submissions early in the new year and then introduce draft legal text by the Chair of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol at the March meeting in Bonn. Our working group just finished developing some new ideas for accounting and we will now shop it around the various interested countries.

The first meeting on REDD has just started. ENGOs are hoping for a strong outcome here in Poznan: a decision text on everything but policies and incentives, which is appropriately figured into the negotiations on country commitments next year.

The most exciting news from yesterday was that Brazil announced its Climate Change Plan. The most prominent feature of the plan is a voluntary national target to reduce Amazon deforestation. There are questions being asked about whether or not the targets are strong enough, and about what Brazil will do about increasing emissions in other sectors, but the assumption of a national target by a developing country is a significant milestone in these negotiations.

Photo: Outside of the main Plenary Hall
Video: Click here for a BBC Clip about Amazon deforestation

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Day of Climate Change Talks

It was a cool and damp morning in Poznan as the Annual Conference of the Parties (COP14) got under way today. Frost tipped the grass and by the time I approached the conference centre, breathing felt almost like drinking.

The first day of these meetings is always is an interesting contrast of excitement and dullness, anticipation and resignation.

  • Meeting dear climate change buddies - this work breeds close connections.
  • Ten thousand delegates converging together to solve one of the Worlds' greatest threats

  • The opening speeches are seldom stirring or inspiring, recycling established positions and offering platitudes

  • The possibility that these talks could deliver some real outcomes such as a deal on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries (REDD) - a concrete activity for developing countries to help combat climate change while saving biodiversity and forest-dependent communities.

  • To the slow pace of the talks and the low expecations expressed by the Parties to the Convention.
At the end talks on the first day and before the host country even has a chance to welcome everyone at its formal reception, Poland has earned a "Fossil of the Day" - the award given each day by the Climate Action Network to a country with the worst performance for the climate. Poland's crime: trying to pull down Europe's ambition and commtments in the lead up to this meeting.