Warsaw Conference: Any real progress?

warsaw cop

The Warsaw conference this year once again battle lines drawn between the climate-vulnerable countries and the blocking high-emitters.

Japan announced that their emission reduction pledge would now be an increase, while Australia continued to block, based on domestic dis-interest.  Countries failed to agree on a roadmap to scale up climate finance.

Structural inequalities and geopolitical power dynamics continued to pose a blockage to a fair climate treaty.  But was there any progress?

A corporate COP: A dangerous sign?

This was the first climate change conference to be sponsored by companies.  Was this a decision to ‘save money’ or a deliberate attempt by the Polish hosts to undermine the process?

NGOs heavily criticised the decision of the Polish hosts to hold a Coal Summit in parallel with the conference.  As well as being an awful decision on the ‘PR’ front, the decision shows how little commitment Poland has on climate change. One only wonders why they were chosen to host the conference in the first place.

Poland itself subsidises coal producers with public funds, showing that they choose to commit public funds to fossil fuels, but not for climate action.

The infiltration by fossil fuel lobbyists also led to a prominent stall for the petroleum industry at the front of the exhibition centre. Was this a deliberate attempt to undermine ambition?

Meanwhile research from LSE shows that we need to leave two-thirds of fossil fuels in the ground to have ANY chance of keeping the warming to the level of 2 degrees.

Parallel meetings: A tactic to limit participation

The issue of ‘parallel meetings’ came up in the finance talks. As negotiations went on through the night, developing-countries delegates argued that Green Climate Fund discussions should not run in parallel to Long-Term Finance.  It seems to be a deliberate tactic to limit participation by developing countries.

Developing-countries delegates explained many of them had only a few delegates, and also had to deal with loss and damage.  There were only one or two delegates from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) participating in the finance discussions.

The United States deliberately tried to call for both the finance meetings (GCF and LTF) to run in parallel together.  Why?  Other countries were angry.  The EU took a compromise position, and eventually the talks were held at separate times.

Finance negotiations and the UNFCCC budget

Once again, small island states brought up the issue of the scarcity of funding for participation in UNFCCC negotiations.

However, the issue of the UNFCCC budget was side-lined from the conference. It emerged only quickly at the end, before the final text was adopted.

Fortunately, there is an invitation for the United Nations General Assembly to consider meeting the conference expenses from a regular budget.

This would be a good idea, reducing the opportunity for the climate conference to be taken over by anti-climate interests.

Lack of transparency: a growing issue

Transparency of finance for climate change was on the agenda.  Developing countries highlighted concerns that Fast Start Finance has not been transparent.

A side event by the Overseas Development Institute highlighted a lack of transparency in the finance commitments by developed countries.  Only a few organisations are able to try to track what is going on.

However, the irony is that the finance meetings themselves were also non-transparent.  Most of the important meetings went on behind closed doors so that the high-GHG-emitting blockers can represent their agenda but hide from media and NGO criticism.  Knowledge is power.

Developing countries highlighted the fact that “transparency of decision-making is very important” and that the Adaptation Fund has the highest transparency.  The Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) is mandated to review finance.  Philippines, representing G77, highlighted the importance of tracking the transparency of finance “support provided and received”.

Ultimately, countries will only have trust and confidence in the process if there is transparency about what is going on and vulnerable developing countries get support to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.   This will be a key for an effective global climate treaty in 2015.

With little progress being made at Warsaw,  responsibility for action now rests on the Climate Summit being organised by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon next year.



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

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.

In the final hours of negotiations – a bit more about what’s at stake for Kiribati

Waiting waiting …

Today we are sat with David, the lawyer from the Kiritbati delegation watching the presidential addresses. Each head of state gets up on stage and delivers some carefully chosen words. Endlessly they take the stage and talk about cooperation and fighting climate change together. And while they talk the real negotiating hasn’t even started. We are still waiting for what’s called the chair’s draft text. This is a text for the agreement to be signed up to by all the countries. It is written by the chairs and then negotiated on. Once the text is produced countries will add and subtract sentences words and commas from it. They’ll add and remove brackets. They’ll bargain with each other about what stays in the text and how it’s phrased. This process is complicated and time consuming. It needs to start now.

Kiribati: we will be the first to go

The good, the bad and the grazers

The good…

Today we’ve been busy attending, taking notes and summarising the main plenary sessions for Kiribati.  The talks have been tense and amongst the inhuman UN language there have been tears and anger from the official negotiators.  We witnessed the spokesperson from Tuvalu break down as he spoke in utter desperation to save his culture, community and livelihood.  The future of his whole country is in the hands of a few.

Watching the Alliance of Small Island States hold their press conference last night, we could feel the exhaustion in their words… the dark lines under their eyes showed how stretched the small delegations are.  They have to negotiate and hold press conferences whilst larger delegations have individuals who do nothing but rest and deliver speeches.

The bad…

The wonderful Bella Center, the host of the COP15 conference, only has a capacity of 15,000. The Secretariat, the people who keep the conference ticking over, are putting into place what’s called ‘double-badging’.  This means that as of Tuesday, we might not be allowed in anymore. So Kiribati’s already tiny team will be reduced even further.

Sound like fair play? Not really.

As of this week, only a limited number of NGO people (like us at UN Fair Play) will be allowed in. So even though we’re doing important work for a vulnrable, underrepresented country we might be left hanging around outside unable to do anything. We won’t be able attend meetings for them, take notes or summarise documents.

It’s doubly frustrating because lots of people we’ve met here aren’t even doing very much. We’ve started calling them “grazers”

They just wander around “grazing”, popping in, popping out, collecting stickers and papers and aren’t really interested in any of the negotiations… they seem to think of COP as a festival rather than the official negotiations of the most important meeting ever to exist.  So we’re angry at being bumped off the list when there are people in the conference who don’t really need to be here.

It doesn’t help our situation but sometimes, just sometimes, it’s good to moan. We’re trying hard to get round this situation.  We’ll keep you posted.