COP17 Durban Climate Conference December 9
10th December 2011,
Europe sets the pace | No home yet for Green Climate Fund | euro currency worth more than climate | Flashmob protest | Kumi exits in handcuffs | draft text rejected by AOSIS | Talks overrun into extra day | Day Summary |
6:32am GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesAs our taxi driver at 3am this morning eloquently put it: "Oh boy, it's D-day". With negotiations widely expected to go through the night into Saturday morning, it promises to be a long and fascinating 24 hours. OneClimate's caffeine-fuelled real-time interactive coverage, will include live webcasts of the top press conferences and plenary hall negotiations, as well as the best articles, blogs, quotes, tweets, audio, photos and video emerging from the conference.
7:11am GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesJohn Lanchbery, of the UK non-profit the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, tells us to watch for moves from South Africa, Brazil and China today, in response to the alliance formed yesterday between the EU, small island states and the least developed countries. Some 120 countries are now said to back the 'EU roadmap' towards a global deal by 2015. Will these major emerging economies join them, leaving the US looking increasingly isolated with their own roadmap to nowhere?
8:06am GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesUK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, tells us that the European Union is speaking for the "vast majority of participants" here and that he sees "hints of movement" from other countries towards their position...
8:20am GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesAnalysts and campaigners here seem to be relatively positive about the prospects of the Green Climate Fund being secured, though there remains a danger that even if the technical issues remaining in the Fund are resolved, it may be held hostage (used as a bargaining chip) by countries looking to secure their interests in other areas of the negotiations.
jschmidtnrdc: Agreement to create the Green Climate Fund at #cop17 has gone to Ministers w/ few small issues that will get resolved #unfccc
8:48am GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesThe European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, has just finished a press briefing, leaving journalists under no illusion as to who she feels needs to move in order for a deal to be made:
It's interesting when you count how many countries are joining up behind [the EU roadmap]… it's clear that responsibility lies very, very heavily on the shoulders now on those few big ones who are still not giving in so much, to agree what we need to agree
Responding specifically to a question regarding the US position, following Todd Stern's statement that he supported the EU roadmap yesterday, and then a clarification later in the evening from the US State Department that they did not support the legally-binding aspect of it, Ms Hedegaard noted that she had seen the "correction" and that she had "always thought that the US was in favour of a legally binding deal providing others were also legally bound". In light of signals from China, Brazil and South Africa in recent days that they are willing to contemplate such a legally binding deal, the US is beginning to look increasingly isolated here in Durban. The next moves from China, India and the US will be key to determining the direction and outcome of these negotiations.
9:17am GMT, 9 Dec update from Peter ArmstrongHere is the recording of this morning's EU press conference:
9:26am GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesFollowing Connie Hedegaard's robust press briefing, Liz Gallagher, of UK non-profit group E3G, is predicting a showdown with the USA:
The only thing that we can do is get the EU and the [vulnerable countries] onside, to have the BASICs onside, and to stare down the US. It's a kill or cure type message. It's almost similar to the Bali scenario again. I think we're just going to have to stare them down and hope for the best
9:47am GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesI've noted that people seem relatively optimistic about the prospects for agreement on the Green Climate Fund. The battle now seems to be whether the Fund will start based in the World Bank, in Washington (favoured by the US), or not (favoured by most developing countries). BBC Environment Correspondent, Richard Black, had suggested it was on its way to Washington, but apparently his sources are now "rowing back" on that...
BBCRBlack: Oxfam rowing back on Green Climate Fund going to Washington DC #cop17 #UNFCCC
10:17am GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesThe international campaigning organisation, Avaaz.org, has taken out a full-page ad in the Financial Times this morning. Addressing India, Japan, the US and Canada, it asks "Will they sign Africa's death sentence?"
The ad has certainly ruffled feathers here in Durban, with its powerful and controversial message causing some consternation - even among other activists.
10:43am GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonAmidst the uncertainties and strain of a press conference held on the final day, Friends of the Earth International sustained their structural perspective that these negotiations are disproportionately influenced by the interests of big corporate power.
If they're right, what should we look out for in the final outcome? What are the fingerprints of big business?
There are broadly three strands of commercial interest:
the carbon traders - these guys want expansion of the Clean Development Mechanism. The developing countries won't agree to that without continuation of the Kyoto Protocol. Europe is under pressure from the traders so that's one reason it supports the KP.
the new energy retailers - they want to sell their kit to poor countries. They want to protect their smart technologies from being copied by China, India etc. Watch for a fight on intellectual property rights.
the big infrastructure builders - they want to build power stations everywhere with a kick from climate finance. They want the Clean Development Mechanism to include their work - including coal technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
One final thought. The interests of the big corporates is not confined to the old industrialised countries. Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs are crawling all over Durban as well.
10:58am GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonI'm watching the Climate Action Network press conference and...
...at last the NGOs have cottoned on to making the connection between financial events in Europe and the lack of financial commitment in the Durban climate talks.
Jason Anderson, Head of European Climate and Energy Policy at WWF, said:
$200 billion was mobilised to stabilise the euro currency yesterday. We need that kind of deciseveness to ensure that the Green Climate Fund does not remain an empty shell
I've been pushing this line for a while, most recently in an article earlier this week which responded to a similar coordinated bail-out of the euro. I shouldn't quote my own stuff but there is an important parallel thought that Jason didn't throw in:
The banks took this action because their expert economic advisers told them that the system was on the verge of meltdown. These experts were not certain about this but the banking authorities decided to take no chances.
If you're tired you may not get the point straight away. Maybe one to develop after this is all over.
11:00am GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesWe just caught up with Greenpeace International's climate policy director, Wendel Trio:
We need agreements on stronger ambition and climate finance, and they are way less progressed than the legal issue.
...even if some kind of deal comes together here in Durban, it will be difficult to call it a success unless the so-called 'gigatonne gap' is closed. This is the gap between the actual emissions we are on course to emit, and what we can afford to emit according to the best science. We need much more ambitious emissions reductions if we want to close this gap - and they don't appear to be on the cards.
11:08am GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill Gunyon
if we don't get an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, if we don't get a roadmap for a legally binding agreement.....there will be extreme anger directed at the countries perceived to be responsible
Alden Meyer speaking at the Climate Action Network press briefing half an hour ago.
11:31am GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonHere's Alden Meyer's summary of the state of play, given in the Climate Action Network press briefing earlier this morning.
On the major task of long term emissions reduction, he says that Brazil and South Africa may have shifted their ground overnight towards the roadmap approach proposed by the European Union.
That leaves all the focus on China, India and US. Can some form of compromise be reached to get them on board?
11:44am GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonIn the current briefing by Third World Network, Meena Raman has confimed my fears about the importance of intellectual property rights in making new technologies available to poor countries.
She reports good progress in some of the informal negotiations on specialist issues such as technology transfer. She says that the draft text is supported by developing countries such as Bolivia and Philippines but is being resisted by US, Canada and Japan.
Her summary of the overall position is that key interests of developing countries (of which IPRs is just one) are being blocked by the usual suspects.
12:03pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill Gunyonfollowing my post on Meena Raman's comments about intellectual property rights, here's the full clip of her summary of the state of play in the talks.
12:14pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonIs she still smiling?
This is the barometer of hope that we can see in any presentation by Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, President of the UN climate conference.
and the answer is - Yes, big time. All these positive things to say...
The LDCs, EU and African Group are moving towards common ground.This also includes the bigger group G77+China
(She doesn't mean China itself, that's just the name of the group). But then she says:
Other parties are coming on board
As long as that statement remains valid, we could be heading for an agreement of sorts in Durban.
12:17pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill Gunyonwhat a surprise....
...the US press briefing scheduled to start in 15 minutes has been cancelled until further notice.
12:28pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonHere's a recording of the full statement and answers to media questions given by Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, President of the UN climate conference.
These comments concluded about 10 minutes ago.
I doubt if we'll hear any more from the President until she has something concrete to report.
11.00pm? 3.00am tomorrow? any time in the next decade?
12:47pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonI've seen a press release timed a couple of hours ago from the Ecosystems Climate Alliance with a self-explanatory headline:
Finance Sources Dropped from REDD Text
This refers to the endeavours of the negotiations to agree how to pay for the scheme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.
The note explains:
Disagreement centered on market mechanisms and how to address the concept of offsets and carbon markets....the REDD decision on sources of finance lacks specific information on sources of finance.
REDD may not be dead but it's undoubtedly going through a near-death experience in Durban.
12:53pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonWho would believe that Twitter allows sufficient room to sum up the state of play in the Durban climate negotiations?
In the hands of the European Commissioner for Climate Action, anything is possible.
CHedegaardEU: Durban is holding its breath. Will China, India and the US accept to be legally bound?
1:22pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesAfter a quiet afternoon of behind the scenes negotiations, the main corridor outside the plenary hall has suddenly erupted into action, as hundreds of civil society delegates, a flurry of media and plenty of panicked security guards have gathered. Cries of "we are all Africans", and "power to the people" ring out, along with "we're going to the plenary". Not all the chants are so catchy, mind...
ElizabethMay: "We want a legally binding treaty" is a very difficult phrase to chant.#COP17
1:24pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill Gunyonif you've been following our blog coverage of the UN climate talks in Durban.....
we'd really welcome any quick thoughts you have about how we can improve in future
drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
1:41pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Jeffrey AllenI was right in the middle of the hall as the flashmob started a few minutes ago. The leader called out two "mic checks," tons of people converged on him, and signs saying "Don't Kill Africa" were pullout out from god-knows-where. Somber singing began -- a couple rounds of the traditional Ndabele folk song Shosoloza. Then the human mic speeches started:
We are here today / For all the people who can't be here / We are here today / For the people who will suffer under the weight of climate change / We are here today / For Africa / We are here today / For the Island nations / We are here today / For the world / To Say / Listen to the people / Not the polluters / We are here today / To support those that are inside / Who are still fighting / For a real climate deal / Listen to the people / People Power / Not Corporate Power
Then Mohamad Aslam, Minister of Environment from the Maldives, took to the human mic:
You need to save us / The islands won't sink / We have our rights / We have a right to live / We have a right to [muffled] / You can't decide our destinies / We will have to be saved.
Another speaker got on the human mic. I couldn't tell who, as the crowd was so big at that point and I'm only 6'2.
We are here today in support of island nations / TO give strength to the African nations / To give support to all the negotiators acting on behalf of the people and not the polluters / We will slowly move to the plenary
Then a pause... and then...
So that's the main message of the demonstrators here, who told us they fully expect to get kicked out of the conference center for the final hours of negotiations.
I hear more chanting and occasional bursts of cheering down below me now. I'm heading back in to see what happens next. I'm still humming Shosoloza.
1:51pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonA joint press notice has just been released by 350.org and Avaaz indicating that they "and allies" are behind the protests that Adam has just experienced. They explain:
In solidarity with the millions of people already feeling the impacts of climate change, hundreds of people protested in the halls of the UN Climate Talks this afternoon to demand that nations not sign a “death sentence” in Durban.
"It is unclear whether security will allow the gathering to proceed throughout the day or clear the area," the press release concludes.
We'll keep you posted.
1:55pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesKumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, holds an impromptu press meeting with Maldives Environment Minister, Mohamed Aslam. Shortly afterwards, security escorted Mr Naidoo out of the building in plastic handcuffs, as protesters chanted "throw out the US"...
2:02pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesThe scene outside the plenary hall here in Durban, as protesters use a 'human microphone' (one person speaks, everyone repeats, so everyone hears) to decide whether they should allow themselves to be escorted out by security, or whether they want to occupy the hall.
2:31pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesAsad Rehman, Senior International Climate Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, explains why protesters are making a stand outside the plenary hall...
2:38pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesThe protesters' human microphone is echoing around the conference centre here as discussions continue as to whether they should stay or go:
if we stay security will come and de-badge us. But if we go no one will be able to hear us.
Security has requested the protesters leave...
kellyrigg: No one seems inclined to accept the offer. #cop17
2:52pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesOur cameraman, Jamie, was at the heart of the protests as they erupted in the corridors. Here is his footage...
3:08pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesKelly Rigg, Executive Director of tcktcktck, tells us that negotiators walking past the protest were "all saying it's about time, we've been wondering when this was going to happen"
3:15pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonLet's move on from all this singing and dancing and get back to business. We were hoping to catch up with a briefing from Jayanthi Natarajan, but it looks as though she has cancelled.
What might be keeping the Indian Minister for Environment and Forests from an early finish to the business of this conference?
Many observers feel that the showstopper in the negotiations is the insistence that any agreement on emissions reductions should be cemented within a legally binding agreement, like the Kyoto Protocol. Countries like US, India and China don't like this.
I'm not convinced. One thing about legal terminology is that it can often be circumvented by....more legal terminology. Surely some clever wording can be found to satisfy all parties.
I've been influenced more by the untypically dull presentations in Durban by Martin Khor, director of the South Centre, a body which assists developing countries. For a fortnight his needle has been stuck in a groove which replays the large gap in emissions per capita in India and China, compared with the United States.
And yet the US is insisting on "parity" in the mitigation expectations of all parties in the new agreement under discussion. Earler today, Martin Khor was still playing the tape:
if we don't solve this problem (of common but differentiated responsibilities) we will not be able to get all 192 countries to agree to this thing. For them (India) to be treated the same as the US - I do not think this is fair.
These countries listen to Martin Khor. I don't think the Europeans have a problem with CBDR (as it's called) but, unless the US can be persuaded to get reasonable, we'll be left with a weak outcome.
4:03pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesWhile the protesters have been making their voices heard in the corridors, a new negotiating text is being discussed by ministers. The full story is difficult to piece together, but it looks to have emerged following the 'ndaba' meeting late last night, and gone through several iterations this morning. AOSIS are said to be unhappy with it, the EU is willing to accept it as a basis for further negotiation, and Australia loves it. Wendel Trio (who is now Director of CAN Europe, and no longer works for Greenpeace as I suggested earlier - my apologies!) gives more details:
4:38pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesAOSIS have finished their coordination meeting to discuss the bloc's response to the latest negotiating text. We understand that the meeting began with delegates declaring it would be impossible to use as a basis for further talks, but that on reflection they drew up a number of suggestions for improvement that will be delivered to the Chair. As laid out by John Vidal and Fiona Harvey in the Guardian, AOSIS' concerns revolve around the language ('legal frameworks' vs. 'legal instruments'), the lack of any post-2012 mitigation actions, and no new emissions targets until after 2020. The Africa Group is rumoured to be struggling to come to a coordinated position on the text. There has been no official response from China, but we hear that Chinese NGOs are worried by what they see.
4:42pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesMinisters are in another informal 'indaba' meeting discussing the text. Maldives climate advisor, Mark Lynas, is inside and reports on Twitter that AOSIS is making a stand. The Cape Verde minister has apparently appealed to the EU for support not to sign their death warrants...
mark_lynas: Text is "totally objectionable" says Grenada minister in #COP17 Indaba.
4:44pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesIt looks like the call to the EU from Cape Verde has been heard. French negotiator Paul Watkinson tweets "we are all Cape Verdians!"
pwatkinson: Nous sommes tous des Cap-verdiens !
4:53pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonI checked out the press briefing by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance which finished just now.
The NGO representatives on the platform didn't have any specific update on the reaction of the Africa Group of negotiators to the latest draft text. But their mood was downbeat.
The Zambian spokesman (apologies for not picking up his name) observed that a poor result here in Durban will rebound on the multilateral system generally and on the forthcoming Rio+20 conference on sustainable development in particular.
This is the set piece event of 2012 for all concerned for poverty reduction and environmental integrity.
He also mentioned the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN framework that was agreed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, alongside the Convention on Climate Change.
I think he's right - indeed the Rio+20 preparation is already weighed down by low expectations. But our concern must focus more on the UN climate change regime which may no longer be sufficiently robust in the minds of political leaders to withstand another major setback.
And let's hope that's not going to happen anyway.
4:56pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesConfirmation that the EU is standing with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), while the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the left-leaning Latin American negotiating bloc, ALBA, are also said to be speaking out against the text in the 'ndaba' meeting
mark_lynas: EU Connie H speaks strongly against draft text, supports islands. #COP17 Indaba. Too weak on legal; timeline. Post-2020 could mean anything
5:05pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonPablo Salon, the former chief negotiator for Bolivia, gave his reaction to the latest draft text for the Durban talks at a press briefing for Focus on the Global South. He said:
the Kyoto Protocol will turn into a zombie without a global figure for reduction of emissions by industrialised countries and will carry on walking until 2020 just so that carbon markets don't disappear.
5:13pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonA high octane reaction to the draft text from Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, speaking at the Focus on the Global South briefing. If his anger proves contagious, we're in for a stormy evening indeed.
we call on the G77, the ALBA Group, the Africa Group, the AOSIS to say clearly that enough is enough for this nonsense. We cannot afford to prerend that nothing is going on while the world is burning.
DON'T KILL AFRICA reads his placard.
5:26pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesJohn Lanchbery, of the UK non-profit the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, tells us that the disagreements on the draft text plus additional work means that these talks could "go well into tomorrow, but that's probably a good thing"...
6:23pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonIf this is referring to our blog coverage, I and my colleageues are basking in the ultimate compliment.
6:30pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesFrench negotiator Paul Watkinson reports that the President is planning to redraft texts incorporating feedback asap...
pwatkinson: #COP17 - COP President to redraft texts on basis of ministerial comments and reactions "as soon as possible"
7:01pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill GunyonBefore we encounter any more draft texts, here's an outline summary of the day's events. (I invite my colleagues to follow up with any errors or omissions).
With the overnight wind in her sails, the European Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard used the day's opening press briefing to add pressure on those parties yet to be won over by her roadmap.
Soon we heard that Brazil and South Africa had been seduced, leaving China, India and US as the main hold-outs. Perhaps the gameplan was to isolate the US and repeat the endgame of the Bali conference in 2007.
Criticism that the NGO movement has been too sleepy in the Durban's sultry atmosphere was finally answered in the most decisive fashion. A "flashmob" of activists filled the hallways, singing and chanting messages to the delegates by human microphone. About 100 protesters have been stripped of their conference badges.
Interviewed moments before his ejection from the Convention Centre, Kumi Naidoo - head of Greenpeace - expressed outrage that the world's banks had overnight mobilised $200 billion to rescue the euro currency, yet could produce nothing for the Green Climate Fund.
These events were captured in dramatic fashion by the OneClimate team. Here's Jeffrey Allen's report.
A new draft of the outcome text was initially accepted by the EU as a basis for further negotiations. But an about-turn was forthcoming when its allies, including the small island states, refused outright to consider the document.
We understand that a revised draft may shortly materialise. There is uncertainty over the remainder of the timetable. Rumours that work will be held over to Saturday may prove false if some key players have booked an early exit from Durban.
I've not provided many links in this text because you can find everything right here in today's live blog.
7:02pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesSo, it seems that during the informal 'indaba' meeting, a number of countries outright rejected the proposed negotiating texts drawn up by the conference President. The indaba has now broken up, the President is redrafting the texts, and it's a case of waiting to see how countries respond to the next version. Time for a cup of tea... but we'll keep our ear to the ground to bring you developments as they happen. In the meantime, Mark Lynas sheds light on AOSIS' hopes from the next draft...
mark_lynas: Aosis new text proposal calls for 'Durban Mandate' for legal Protocol to conclude by COP18. Ministerial now over #COP17
8:22pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Adam GrovesAny doubts that it's going to be a very long night are dispensed with thanks to this news from tcktcktck Executive Director, Kelly Rigg:
kellyrigg: #UNFCCC secretariat closing press conf scheduled for tomorrow 13:15, if that's any indicator of how late this may go. #cop17
9:56pm GMT, 9 Dec update from Bill Gunyonjust to let you know that the formal proceedings of the UN climate talks in Durban are being closed for today and access to the Convention Centre suspended.
Obviously that's not great news but efforts are continuing to resolve the differences between the parties.
I think we should have a better idea of the outcome by lunchtime tomorrow (Saturday) and our live blog team will be back in action at 8.00am (GMT+2).