Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Clearest Explanation of the Logging Loophole proposed by developed countries

This is my communications masterpiece - a crystal clear explanation of how developed countries are trying to increase their logging emissions with impunity from a global climate agreement!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Last Chance: The Road to Cancun

I am back home in beautiful Ottawa looking out my window at the colours that make autumn so special in Canada. This beauty is in sharp relief to the thick smog the bus drove through on the way to the Beijingairport on Sunday.

The closing plenary in Tianjin showed that there is still hope for a better outcome to the forestry negotiations. Both the Africa Group (all African countries) and the Association of Small Island States spoke out strongly against the logging loophole: they both rejected the approach of using "projected reference levels" from the future to account for forestry emissions. This resistance and insistence on environmental integrity is important. Although developed countries may not want to take heed of this, we will do our best to make sure they do.

In the next seven weeks before the decision-making meeting in Cancun, I will be working with my colleagues to continue pushing for a strong outcome: campaigning, public outreach, communications and exploring compromises that have environmental integrity. We are in the final stretch.

In the meantime, I will be working to ensure that domestic policies and meausures for forests and climate change are up to snuff!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Signs of Hope

I don't know if it was the jeans but the winds shifted a bit in the forestry negotiations today. Glimmers of hope have started to shine on what was starting to look like a pretty bleak outcome to these talks.

The negotiating block of developing countries known as the G77 and China have been negotiating the outlines of a weak forest deal that would allow developed countries to increase their logging emissions with impunity. Today we started to see some more resistance to this proposal. Tuvalu called on the Chair of Kyoto Protocol negotiations to bring sanity back to the talks and African countries are starting to express their reservations as well. Other rumblings of discontent are also being heard in the halls.

We've been supporting this resistance with articles in the daily newsletter ECO, pitching stories to journalists, and reaching out to countries that could make a difference and who support deep cuts in emissions. The embedded video shows Julie-Anne Richards with the International Climate Action Network repeating the call for sanity in an intervention given in an open plenary meeting. We learned at the last minute that civil society would be given a chance to speak to all the assembled countries so we scrambled to get a statement together.

The last day of the talks is tomorrow and we've got a few last tricks up our sleeves. We may just leave these talks with something that we can work with moving towards the final decision-making round of talks this December in Cancun, Mexico.

(Video: Annex B Parties means developed countries with commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce their emissions).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Denim Protest

I left the suit at the hotel and came to the conference centre in jeans and t-shirt today as a small gesture of personal protest against the dirty forest deal that is being made here in Tianjin. The sense in the halls yesterday was palpable that the G77 and China are giving developed countries everything they want in exchange for a little transparency.

The logging loophole is just a step away from being enshrined in a decision at December's big decision-making climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico. The parties to this process have spent almost all their negotiating time over the last year discussing an approach that allows developed countries to increase their logging emissions with impunity, thereby damaging forests and undermining climate action. Alternative options were barely discussed. Emissions from other land uses like croplands and wetlands has scarcely been on the agenda. Accounting for these emissions is voluntary and hardly anyone is doing it. With so little time remaining before the final meeting in Cancun this could signal that countries have no intent to close this loophole either.

Anyone who asks me today why I am in jeans and t-shirt will hear that I am protesting the lack of ambition to protect forests and fight for the climate.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Forestry Negotiations in Tianjin China: Rolling towards the abyss!

Day 3 of the Tianjin Climate Talks has already past and the Great Fire Wall of China has kept me from posting before now. This post is being made through a friend back in Canada who kindly offered to help me get the word out.

The proposal to allow developed countries to use 'reference levels' from the future to measure their emissions compliance for logging continues to move forward. As one developing country negotiator described it to me: this thing now has wheels.

Unfortunately this proposal is taking us off a cliff from which environmental integrity in this process may never recover. It still amazes me that government representatives from developed countries that have caused climate change and have made commitments to fix it can say with a straight face that it is good policy to allow them to increase their logging emissions without penalty.

There have been two interesting developments in the last 24 hours. The first is that developed countries put forward a process to have expert technical teams review the proposed reference levels. It looks okay as far as technical review goes but all it will really demonstrate is whether countries have done a good job proposing bad reference levels.

The other development was that there was an open session today to discuss an alternative to the reference level approach. The island nation of Tuvalu described its proposal to use emissions/removals from forest management in the first commitment period (2008-2012) as the basis for measuring increases or decreases in the second commitment period. Tuvalu and Belarus both made clear and compelling arguments for why a historical baseline is the only reliable basis for demonstrating whether we are actually moving towards our target of emission reductions. The European Union, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea were the principle defenders of the flawed 'projected reference level' approach.

At the request of Tuvalu, the co-chairs of the session opened the floor to comments from civil society and I was able to make an intervention. I recorded it low-tech style on my iPhone. Picture me in a room full of negotiators in a conference centre that looks like it was designed for giants!