COP 17 (Groundhog) day 10
Vernon Rive . 10/12/2011 11:56:45 p.m.
The sun’s risen on another muggy day in Durban to the news that the COP17 talks are being extended for another day.
It’s all feeling a bit Groundhoggish. Bleary-eyed delegates and journalists are wandering around: some in a daze, others staring and pecking away at laptops. Groups of young observers are cross-legged in circles in the corridors, chatting. The conference centre screens that during the last 2 weeks have been crammed with rolling announcements of press conferences, meetings, side events and notices of new documents are largely blank and static.
new texts were released and are under discussion, but nothing has been agreed yet.
With many of the party delegates booked to fly out today, and so many of the contentious issues still seemingly up in the air, its hard to see that on the critical matters, much is going to be able to be resolved before the meeting finishes, other than perhaps some sort of high level declaration or commitment to keep talking. That would be a very poor result. It would not be good at all for the reputation of the UNFCCC process.
Cindy Baxter over on Hot Topic is doing
some good analysis from a New Zealand perspective.
The country has come in for a bit of stick from the NGOs. Last night New Zealand
earned a “first place fossil” in the Climate Action Network awards for
“…severely mixed messages about its Kyoto Protocol 2nd Commitment Period stance. This time, it made it clear, describing Kyoto as 'actually an insult to New Zealand'. The only insult is to the citizens of New Zealand and the rest of the world, who will have to suffer the costs of climate change.”
To be fair to Minister Groser, his real reservation on the KP 2nd period (as I understood it) was that it shouldn’t be regarded as the be-all-and-end-all. A major task here in Durban has been to try and lock in commitments from other major emitters, especially the USA and China. Groser’s choice of words – “an insult to New Zealand” predictably raised the ire of the NGOs. Somehow I don’t think he’s going to lose any sleep over the Fossil award.
On the issue of locking in commitments from a wider pool of nations, the
current draft text has countries (developed and developing) agreeing to “launch a process to develop a Protocol or another legal instrument applicable to all Parties”. The exact meaning of ‘a Protocol or another legal instrument’ remains murky, and deliberately so. The USA has a pathological dislike for the phrase ‘legally binding’. So this is a compromise to try and broker a deal. But is not clear if the USA, China and India will agree to even this watered down obligation.
As for a 2nd commitment period on the Kyoto Protocol for New Zealand, at this stage, that is also murky. The
current draft text contains proposed amendments to the KP’s Annex 1 (which contains Quantified Emission Limitation or Reduction Obligations or QELROs). New Zealand’s row on the table is blank, with a footnote as follows:
New Zealand is prepared to consider submitting information on its QELRO, pursuant to decision 1/CMP.7, paragraph 3, following the necessary domestic processes and taking into account decision 1/CP.17 and decisions on mitigation [XX/CP.17] of the Conference of the Parties.
So, at this stage, the draft text reflects a New Zealand’s commitment to do no more than consider submitting figures some time down the track, after more analysis, perhaps some consultation, and a hard think about how the entire package looks.
At this late stage it is probably unrealistic to expect that much more will come from New Zealand. But it falls well short of a stepping up to the mark hoped for by many here in Durban.
It has been reasonably challenging trying to track New Zealand’s precise position on a range of issues this week. Maybe that is to be expected in a negotiation where positions on individual components (such as the KP 2nd commitment period) depend on outcomes on other matters (other nations’ commitments, rules on matters such as the carryover of Kyoto units from 1st to 2nd commitment periods , LULCF rules etc). But overall New Zealand has kept its cards very close.
Minister Groser delivered the customary brief Heads of Government statement on Wednesday, but there’s been not one official press conference in 2 weeks where international media could quiz New Zealand’s ambassador on the country’s position. (The Minister did agree to an around 10 minute interview with me on Tuesday which was appreciated.) Jo Tyndall sat in on Tokelau’s press conference on Thursday, but
according to Cindy from Hot Topic, didn't throw too much light on New Zealand's position:
“Jo Tyndall, head of the NZ delegation, sat on the podium with [the Ulu of Tokelau], and wouldn’t commit to helping them out in finding the finance for the $900,000 they need to finish the project. Things are looking better for an outcome on the Green Climate Fund here in Durban, so maybe that would make a difference, But when the BBC asked her to clarify her position on Kyoto, she refused to answer. We know that New Zealand has joined Australia in pushing back against Kyoto. She looked very uncomfortable, and so she should.”
A UN press conference is apparently scheduled in an hour or so, but things are very fluid today. I will do an update after that and a wrap up post in the next couple of days when we know what the final result is.
By Vernon Rive on 10/12/2011 11:56:45 p.m. | Comments (0) | Print |