COP18 Doha UN climate talks Nov 30

Friday 1755: The lead negotiator for the European Union has just given a helpful, if somewhat alarming, summary of the state of progress into Day 5 of the Doha COP.

Artur Runge-Metzger explained that there are three texts that negotiators have to knock into some sort of shape by next Wednesday when their ministers get to work. And there must be even progress on all three. If one falls behind, they all topple over together.

He outlined significant concerns in relation to the preparation of each of the texts. And more concern that they will hold together in the necessary equilibrium. Not a rosy picture!

Work on the Kyoto Protocol is struggling, not so much with the text but with some legal technicalities on moving into a second commitment period, for which the necessary meeting failed to happen.

On the new overarching agreement to be reached by 2015,  no text has yet been presented to talk about. And the text for areas relating to the 2007 Bali Action Plan has been rejected out of hand.

If all these intricacies can be sorted out, then, as Mr Runge Metzger put it, “only the main political issues are left.”

It’s beginning to feel like Friday afternoon.


Friday 19.35: Presenting a vision of “What an Obama administration ‘climate reset’ could look like” was the goal of the US Climate Action Network press conference which has now concluded.

This was an opportunity to call to account the president for his promise to act on the “destructrive power of a warming planet” made in his victory speech earlier last month.

And Hannah Bristol of SustainUS reminded us how the votes and activism of young people – naturally concerned about climate change – were considered to be highly instrumental in Obama’s victory – further grounds for expectation that the Doha COP presents the opportunity for a first instalment on that debt.

My previous post recorded some of the ways that the US delegation could contribute to a much more creative negotiating environment without invoking the spectre of Congressional approval. The consistent thread of the speakers was a plea to be helpful rather than obstructive.

Is it really too much to ask for detail on how the commitment to 17% emissions reduction by 2020 will be achieved and how it might conceivably be ramped up both before and after that date? Why not support the proposal, reiterated here by David Waskow of Oxfam US, for a pledging conference in 2013?

The COP shouldn’t be a punch and judy show where life is a series of episodes ended by bashing your partner over the head.

Alden Meyer, Director of Policy and Strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, closed the session with a clear message:

We’re expecting big things from the president. We’re hoping he will make this a centrepiece of his inaugural address at the end of January and will indicate to the American people that he hears their voices  and wants to provide real leadership in the next four years.


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