COP17 Durban Climate Conference December 3-4
5th December 2011,
Week One summary | Durban Day of Climate Action - interviews, footage and photos | India press briefing | Food security and climate change | REDD safeguards watered down | Kumi Naidoo interviews |
12:11pm GMT, 3 Dec update from Bill GunyonAlden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists gave a formidable summary of the state of play in the Durban talks in the press briefing this morning on behalf of the Climate Action Network. I'll try to pick out the key points:
Kyoto Protocol - still up in the air which way this might go and even the best outcome (formal amendment introducing a second commitment period for emissions reductions) could not take effect until 2013.
long term binding agreement - US current position crosses so many red lines (especially doing nothing until after 2020) that developing countries regard it as not a serious basis for negotiation. If G77+China group could reach agreement, that might put pressure on US
Small Island States - their proposals to get an agreement within 12 months have been excluded from draft texts due to objection by US
Green Climate Fund - agreement is possible but real problems remain with US reluctance to allow developing countries to have meaningful role in the context of raising long term finance
The main task for the conference today is to progress draft documents on technical issues (Adaptation and REDD are believed to be furthest forward) and for negotiators to absorb the Presidency's paper on the big political issues to be sorted out by ministers.
12:16pm GMT, 3 Dec update from Adam GrovesMore than 20,000 people were called onto the streets of Durban this morning for a Global Day of Climate Action. When you hear thousands of South African women singing together, suddenly any challenge seems surmountable. We'll bring you the best videos and interviews from the march on our live webcast this afternoon.
12:42pm GMT, 3 Dec update from Bill GunyonAt last we've heard from India, thanks to a briefing from the head of the Durban delegation, J.M. Mauskar, special secretary in the ministry of environment and forests.
Mr Mauskar was resolutely tight-lipped in presenting India's apparently uncompromising position. But he sustained a sense of humour which suggests that the Indians will not simply act as sulky boys standing in the corner.
Can the European persuade India to sign up to some sort of promise to join in a legally binding framework or to even to a timetable to talk about it?
We are not against a legal treaty. The question is what comes first, action or treaty. If treaties could solve problems, life would be simple for us.
One or two presentational banana skins lie in wait for the European Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.
this terminology of 'major emitters' we don't like. India is not a major emitter. India is a large country with a small footprint
From other comments by Mr Mauskar, it is clear that when he talks about "carbon footprint" he means per capita emissions. He made no reference to the fact that India is 3rd on the 2010 list of global carbon dioxide emitters.
But the negotiator was conciliatory on India's demands on trade and intellectual property rights (they don't want to be frozen out from access to new technologies). And Mr Mauskar concluded by saying:
I am optimistic that all us go from Durban with smiling faces
That thought has induced an paroxysm of writer's block.
12:52pm GMT, 3 Dec update from Bill GunyonGoing back to the Climate Action Network briefing, the panel of experts speaking on behalf of the global NGO movement was asked for a reaction to the overnight news that China might agree to a roadmap leading to a legally binding treaty on action to fight climate change.
(this may not be word perfect) but Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists warned:
this is not an entirely new position and it is based on certain conditions eg overall progress in negotiations and in China's own development. And it's not intended to signal that China's pledges on emissions reductions will go into the agreement. It's a constructive move but the devil is in the detail
which is another way of saying that the cat in not in the bag just yet.
3:33pm GMT, 3 Dec update from Adam GrovesDuring the protest march through Durban today, we caught up with Kumi Naidoo, current Executive Director of Greenpeace International and former anti-apartheid activist. He has an interesting perspective on the similarities and difference between the climate movement and the anti apartheid movement...
5:40pm GMT, 4 Dec update from Bill GunyonAlden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists gives a summary of the state of play of the Durban climate change talks. He was speaking on Saturday morning at a press briefing on behalf of the Climate Action Network.
Although the negotiators had a full working day on Saturday and made some progress, this was mostly in logistical areas. Examples include the transfer of green technologies to developing countries and setting up a structured response to loss and damage caused by extreme climate events.
Alden Meyer's summary addresses the bigger political issues such as the future of the Kyoto Protocol and the establishment of the Green Climate Fund which remain on the table when delegates start work on Monday morning.
5:41pm GMT, 4 Dec update from Bill Gunyonif you have any comments about a post in this blog, or if you wish to point out an error, please write to me at email@example.com
9:08pm GMT, 4 Dec update from Adam GrovesEU Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, has taken to twitter this evening, asking what one presumes is a rhetorical question following recent Chinese comments on the prospects for a legally binding deal...
CHedegaardEU: Minister Xie spoke warmly about the need for a legally binding deal. Does that then mean that China will also be legally bound?
1:29am GMT update from Bill GunyonA last word for now on Saturday's Day of Action protest in Durban. The world's media either loved it (especially the photogenic qualities of the activists) or ignored it. Not a single mention in the UK's Guardian.
I think I can honestly say that the best coverage came from my colleagues on this page. To borrow modern jargon, they embedded themselves in the march and interviewed many of the key players. Just scroll down this blog or check out the recorded videos.
The interview with Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace, is the highlight, at least for the first couple of minutes. Then a lady appears out of nowhere to give him a hug and Kumi loses his stride a bit after that.
The event was soured slightly with some trouble between domestic political factions. It's today's lead story in the Mail&Guardian.
It would be a mistake to believe that the protesters have now packed their bags. Occupy COP17 has announced:
we will be stepping up our activities to make sure that the voices of the 99% are heard loud and clear in the ICC and beyond
The group has posted a daily programme of activities for the coming week.
1:47am GMT update from Bill GunyonSunday at the Durban climate talks is a day of leisure or a day of faith, or maybe both. In his sermon, the President of Caritas International, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, said:
failure at climate talks in Durban is a moral apartheid that cannot be allowed to happen
Spiritual intervention to smooth the fractious talks was sought out in a climate change church service organized by the South African Council of Churches. According to an Associated Press report:
"We needed to pray for (an) acceptable, balanced outcome, that has a sense of urgency," said Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who as South Africa's foreign minister is president of the Durban round of negotiations. Priests laid their hands on her head in blessing during the service.
Let's hope the service was well-attended.
1:52am GMT update from Bill GunyonIt's great to hear in this NTV report that there are more than 100 people in the Kenyan delegation at the UN climate talks. And the minister has already arrived.
We've heard so often that African delegations are unfairly outnumbered in international negotiations. Not that strength of numbers is a panacea but it's a start.
2:01am GMT update from Bill GunyonPhrases to watch out for from the US delegation - a bit of fun from Greenpeace. Jonathan Pershing and his team made one or two uncharacteristic slips in the first week which has opened them up to attack. I've joined in with an satirical article here.
2:20am GMT update from Bill GunyonOn Saturday the world's top food security organisations issued an appeal to the UN climate conference to address the omission of agriculture from its negotiating text.
Specifically, we ask that (negotiators) approve a Work Programme for agriculture.... so that the sector can take early action to determine the long-term investments needed to transform agriculture to meet future challenges
I have mixed feelings about this. I admit to being frustrated that the recent IPCC report on extreme events and disasters failed to extrapolate its confidence on temperature predictions to the impact on food production. More hot days and nights reduce growing seasons.
On the other hand, agriculture does enjoy established coordination channels such as the Committee on Food Security as well as funding streams promised by the G20.
Hooking up development programmes in water, energy, health, gender etc etc with climate change mitigation and adaptation is so difficult that some aid researchers now pursue a topic called "complexity".
2:46am GMT update from Bill GunyonAccording to the official report of Saturday's proceedings in respect of REDD (reducing emissions for deforestation and forest degradation):
the draft text on methodological issues...was adopted with little or no further discussion
In an event where nothing ever seems to be agreed, this sounds like good news. But the Ecosystems Climate Alliance, a group of NGOs fighting to protect natural ecosystems, are far from happy. Under the headline: Brazil Blocks REDD Safeguards, we learn:
Brazil is very selfish to block progress on REDD. Tropical countries rely on financial support to reduce deforestation. The consequence of Brazil’s behavior will be REDD that is not credible and will not obtain sufficient funding
There's confirmation in a report by the Center for International Forestry Research plus an additional piece of bad news for REDD:
Latest draft texts on REDD+ that will go forward to a plenary session for approval have postponed a decision on financing to next year and watered down safeguards requirements, leaving REDD+ projects in limbo and indigenous groups unprotected
"Safeguards" refers to a list of REDD conditions which aim to protect the rights of forest people and the right of local and national entities to control their own forest policy.
I thought that that Safeguards had all been agreed at Cancun. How naive can you get.
3:14am GMT update from Bill GunyonOn Saturday the national delegations were presented with a draft negotiating text (over 100 pages) which strives to bring together everything discussed in the opening week. Today is the final chance to agree what has not been agreed - which in turn sets the agenda for the ministers who start work on Tuesday.
Rumours continue to fly around on where the key players stand on the future of the Kyoto Protocol and a mandate to discuss a new legally binding agreement. AlertNet has access to an unnamed insider in the US delegation and concludes:
The United States is sceptical that China's comments it could support a legally binding deal to cut its own greenhouse gas emissions marked a breakthrough in troubled climate talks
The same source declared the European Union's timetable for a mandate to be impractical.
The Guardian fingers India as potentially siding with the US in stalling progress. The article reckons that:
Europe and the South African chair of the talks are thought to have persuaded the 42-strong Alliance of Small Island States coalition and the 48 least developed countries to back the EU
Mark Lynas - who famously accused China of spoiling the Copenhagen talks - continues to see that country as the lynchpin of the Durban round. He also continues his attack on the Kyoto Protocol, given the outdated division between countries with "differentiated responsibilities."
If you just want to catch up with the factors driving the political tussles over the roadmap (or mandate) for a legal agreement, Jake Schmidt gives a detailed run down on the NRDC blog.
3:27am GMT update from Bill GunyonLet's start the week with a rousing quote from Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace, when asked to compare climate change with the fight against apartheid:
the struggle for action on climate change is incomparable to any other struggle that we have seen. Other struggles have affected one country - or maybe a group of countries - but climate change affects every single human being on the planet
Kumi was talking to OneClimate's Adam Groves during the Day of Action march on Saturday.