A slice of the broader narrow picture

Last night was UNfairplay’s first ever side event!

Side event = boring, dry, uninspiring? Not necessarily, I know I have been surprised at how engaging issues of participation have been for those involved in UNfairplay, and to those who we try to convey our findings too. Our aim was to draw attention to the report but also to highlight other schemes created to plug participation gaps at the UNFCCC. I think the reason our arguments are gaining traction and interest from all sides is very simply because they are issues of justice, and plain unfairness. My parents always hated my “its not fair” phase at the age of 7, well it’s back.

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Money, money, money

You may or may not know, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, but the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI), which is a stream of the talks, currently has on its agenda a number of important ideas for improving civil society participation in this process.

These ideas include setting up an online consultation system for every major agenda item that is being discussed. This would act as a means of gauging support, recieiving alernatives before they are discussed, and possibly during negotiations, but online so the proposer does not need to be in attendance of meeting (potentially); also for a larger number of meetings to be webcast (although this probably still excludes closed meetings); a voluntary trust fund to aid participation of observers from certain developing countries.

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Passionate Pragmatism


The UNfairplay team for week 1

Hello from Bonn, I’m Sophie and I’m new to Unfairplay.

Coming along to Bonn as my first involvement in the UNFCCC process has been a steep learning curve.

So what has my experience so far been?

This is a world of acronyms. At time it feels almost like learning a new language. It can be rather confusing, but as with learning a new language, it comes with a buzz as you realise you are slowly starting to get your head around it. On that note, here’s an update from Unfairplay and an insight into some of what the team have been up to this week.

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from under the firewall

The atmosphere at the UNFCCC conference in China seems to be quiet and subdued, compared to the chaos at Copenhagen. Delegates comment that the negotiations are “slow”. One Kenyan delegate commented with frustration that the room full of lawyers had spent 45 minutes arguing about the definition of one word. He said that there were too many lawyers, and not enough scientists in the negotiations.

In addition, the Great Chinese Firewall has blocked access to many NGO websites (including this one!) which may hinder the access to information. Although the UN conference is supposed to be international and independent, even the UN conference computer room is subject to the firewall!Initial results from the ‘Filling Information Gaps’ Survey have found that some country delegates did not know that the ‘webcasts’ of meetings were provided on the UNFCCC website. It seems that access to information is clearly unequal.All delegates interviewed so far have been extremely interested in this project. Some different suggestions have been made for making the UN fairer; one suggested that there should be a limit to the number of delegates that are allowed, and a few suggested there needs to be more translations in the smaller meetings.

Transparency is still an issue, too. Most of the meetings are closed to observers. That means that only government delegates and the observer states are allowed in. Actually, there seems to be more meetings labelled with ‘CLOSED’ than there was at the previous talks in Bonn in June. I do hope this is not a growing trend. Unfortunately, at this crucial stage in the talks, with so many closed meetings it is still difficult to work out exactly what is going on.



If you would like to attend the negotiations in Cancun solely as a volunteer for UNfairplay, from 29th November – 10th December 2010, and need accreditation, please email us at: unfairplay.fig@gmail.com

STOP PRESS: the guide is ready!

UNfairplay’s guide to supporting delegations at the UN Climate Negotiations is now available to download from the toolbar at the bottom of the website underneath the comments on each page.

It offers guidance on getting accredatation, media coverage, places to stay, travelling and stories of our experiences that you can learn from.

Feel free to download and share as much as you like

UNfairplay Love

United we stand

By now you will probably know the importance of the numbers 1.5C and 350ppm. (If not, check Sam’s blog post below.) As a session of negotiations was about to begin, the youth here staged a silent protest at the entrance. We wore t-shirts saying ‘how old will you be in 2050?‘ and held signs simply saying 1.5c. Sam and I whiled away the minutes trying to make eye contact with all delegates who walked past. Only the good guys could look us in the eye, those being African nations and small island states. A plethora of old, Caucasian , and Asian men and women couldn’t.

One of the 2 delegates from Barbados looked me straight in the eye and said “united we stand”, and member of the Secretariat breezed past saying “thank you. we need you.” and then a traditionally dressed African female delegate made the effort to say thank you to each one of us there.

Sadly, in the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice, Saudi Arabia killed off a feasibility report on the science of 1.5C to be presented at Cancun, essentially silencing the scientific argument that 1.5 is the necessary target.

They had the cheek to suggest that the LDC’s (Less Developed Countries) consult Google to find out the science on why they think they are going underwater! All just a tactic to kill the motion, and kill time-in more ways than one.

Other countries made no effort to block the feasability report because they knew the Saudi’s would block it so they need not tar their image by saying what they really think. As far as negotiations are concerned this is classic Saudi Arabia who always try to put a spanner in the works. So far at Bonn they have blocked talks on the taxation of aircraft and shipping fuels (currently untaxed) and now this, although is it any wonder when every delegate they send has come from the Ministry for Petroleum?!

A bad day for the negotiations for sure.