My observation after a week of COP21 negotiations

My observation after a week of COP21 negotiations

This is how hectic and crowded Hall 6 can be. Spot the Climate Change TV behind!

This is how hectic and crowded Hall 6 can be. Spot the Climate Change TV behind!

After a few days of tracking and running around we found out that tracking negotiators is HARD. They are busy until they don’t even have time to eat. Their schedules are highly uncertain, as immediate changes or postpones or even cancellation of meetings are the norms. Meals and toilet breaks are on-the-run.

Based on our observations, negotiators are multi-tasking all the time. Their brain never stops, literally. You see them texting and typing during meeting; whispering with their team in between discussions. Everything is really intensed. They basically start their day at 8am with meetings, end their day at evening, sometimes after midnight (in the second week).

It took us some time to understand the different types of meeting. As I am mostly following the main text agreement, the meetings that I always went are those under the ADP ones. Other meetings by different bodies such as the Subsidiary bodies (SBSTA & SBI) and LPAA (Lima-Paris Action Agenda) are ongoing at the same time too.

Basically, ADP meetings consists of spin-off groups and contact groups. Contact group is an open-ended meeting that work on crosscutting issues and items not associated with agreement articles, where the parties negotiate before forwarding the agreed text for formal adoption in a plenary. Whereas spin-off groups work on the individual articles in draft agreement and their respective decision text.

Facilitators are appointed by the UNFCCC secretariat to facilitate and speed up the contact groups and spin-off groups. Sometimes, there are informal meetings too such as informal contact groups or informal consultations to let group of delegates to meet in private to discuss and consolidate views. Besides that, each party blocs do have their own daily coordination meetings are meant for each bloc (e.g. LMDC coordination meeting, or G77 & China daily coordination meeting) to ensure the bloc comes to a consensus on certain topic or discuss strategies for daily’s negotiations on how to deal with other blocs.

How a typical meeting room set up looks like. Screens are provided for negotiators to read the instant changes in the text upon discussion

How a typical meeting room set up looks like. Screens are provided for negotiators to read the instant changes in the text upon discussion

In the meetings, we also found it hard in the beginning to identify who are the speakers because no country flags are placed in small scale meetings as the negotiators know each others well. We were also quite lost in the beginning of the pace of discussion, mainly because of all the jargons that we came across (e.g. we support LMDC suggestion on article X, paragraph Y that blah blah… However, AILAC mentioned in article Z paragraph S…).

Newcomers, like us, are not familiar with the text would take more time to absorb what exactly was the spokesperson referring to. So it is not surprised to see how attendees in meetings including the negotiators themselves bringing a hardcopy of the text full of highlights and remarks along with them all the time!

Logistically, I found out that the soundproof facility between rooms to rooms are not that good. It makes me wonder how can the negotiations carried out in peace, confidentially? (oops, hope they didn’t overlooked this part).

Securities are pretty tight too especially closed meetings where every single person will be checked on their badges before entering the room by the United Nations own security force. Some of the contact groups even needed special secondary badges to enter!  The so-called CCTV (climate change TV) is literally everywhere in HALL 6 to showed the up-to-date schedule and also sometimes, broadcasting live closed meetings. Sometimes, many of the important closed meetings happened parallel with each other. This raised concern to the negotiators, and Malaysia voiced this up several times to the chair and secretariat. Not to mention, Malaysia pushed to open some other closed meetings to be opened to observers for transparency purpose! Another proud moment for Malaysians *Jumps and feeling proud*

Written by: Emily

New Direction and SBI Informal Consultation

New Direction and SBI Informal Consultation

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Today is a brand new experience for me as I have accompanied Emily to lodge a police report on her lost phone instead of attending Conference of Parties (COP21). Might as well grab this opportunity to have a short city-visit.

When we arrived at Police Station near Gare Du Nord, it took us quite a while to communicate effectively with the police officer due to language barrier. The reporting process took longer than we have expected. Therefore, we have decided to pay a second visit in the evening. While rushing back to COP21 venue, I stopped by a vendor booth to buy a doughnut bun filled with custard cream. Even though it looked common, I will never forget the taste of my first bite. It was simply delightful and delicious! This makes me start wondering whether every Parisian is an expert baker.

We managed to rush back to COP21 venue and attended the Subsidiary Body of Implementation (SBI), informal consultation for national adaptation plan (NAP). As a yellow badge holder, I am grateful to attend this particular session. It was opened to both observers and parties. The session started with an opening speech by the co-chair. This was followed by other formalities whereby countries’ negotiators will agree to cooperate with co-chair to ensure every decision making process reflects honesty and straightforwardness.

The negotiation started to become intense when ‘Para 4’ Green Climate Fund was discussed. Based on the first version of draft decision, Green Climate Fund is only accessible to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (AOSIS) and African states. On the other hand, other developing countries which are moving towards sustainable development are not eligible for this funding. Countries from Global South and working group such as “G77 and China” raised their concerns about this paragraph and demanded for text revision. However, this issue has been postponed to the next meeting due to time constraint.

In my opinion,‘Para 4’ can be described as a deliciously sweet yet poisonous apple. The reason behind is if LDCs accept this temptful offer, it may weaken the bond and trust of ‘G77 and China’ working group. G77 and China was established in 1964 by 133 members (majority are LDCs) which aims to establish a common negotiation positions to promote their collective economic interest. It is undeniable that LDCs required great amount of fundings. However, without a strong coalition between developing countries, developed countries will WIN the battle as self-differentiation is less likely their main concern.  

I think  “Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR)” is one of the most crucial cornerstones of universal agreement. Developing countries would be able to achieve sustainable development with the receive of technology, finance and capacity building. In conclusion, I hope that all participated countries which fall under the convention are able to fulfil their obligations. Climate change is a global issue that need to be solved globally.

Written by : Thomas

Edited by : Ginger

Observers Conversation with Christinana Figures

Observers Conversation with Christinana Figures

“Don’t ever think words that are not exist in the agreement is not part of the solution, solution for climate change is broad”. – Christiana Figueres

christinana Figures

Christinana Figures

 I have decided to attend this session as I am very curious about the major concerns of different Civil Society Organisation (CSO) which attended COP21. Before the session started, I met with a person from Mediators Beyond Borders, who is doing mediation for negotiations. This is my first encounter and it sounds really cool to be part of the conflict management and dispute resolution for negotiations. Never thought there will be a language-based organisation for this matter.

The session started with voices from the floor. Climate Action Network (CAN) raised up the accessibility issue for observers to enter closed meetings once again. The Executive Secretary (ES) responded that currently spin-off meetings have been webcasted and overflow rooms were opened for contact groups meeting.

In addition, observers have access to the documents. I just can’t help wondering why the document isn’t open to public. Are they treating observers just like public in terms of document accessibility? When President Fabius repeatedly mentioned negotiation process should be transparent, inclusive, openness, and trust in several plenary, it created a conflict with the present situation. Fortunately, President Fabius is planning to engage with observers. Let’s hope for a better engagement between both sides.

Executive Secretary (ES) mentioned that the recent contact group meeting was suspended. This is to allow adequate time for negotiators and observers to read through latest release of text.

On behalf of YOUNGO, Lastrina raised question on how can youth & other NGO help to speed up the process in the next 24 hours. She asked if there is any possibility of arranging any meet up with negotiators to seek for inputs. Executive Secretary (ES) replied that conversation with negotiators is normally done during coffee session and casual meet ups. There are only a few delegations who have included youth in their national delegation this year. YOUNGO can lobby further regarding this issue.

She announced that Paris agreement will be adopted in Paris on next FRIDAY (11/12/15) and signed at NY next year. Therefore, Friday should be recognised as a “stay tuned” element by everyone on the floor.

In regards to this matter, I have personally met with a few youths from different countries especially those from developing and least developed countries. They were facing difficulties engaging or even contacting their home negotiation team. I felt unfair for them. I believe YOUNGO and UNFCCC secretariat could push harder in solving this problem.

Lastly, Executive Secretary (ES) explained that the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP) hasn’t reach a solution yet. Some issues are moving forward quicker than before. However, the speed needs to be moderated in order to achieve a comprehensive agreement.

Once again, Christiana emphasized that “Don’t ever think words that are not exist in the agreement is not part of the solution, solution for climate change is broad”.

 

Written by: Emily

Edited by: Ginger

ADP Opening Plenary at COP21

ADP Opening Plenary at COP21

ADP Opening Plenary on 29th November 2015

ADP Opening Plenary on 29th November 2015

The 21st session of Conference of Parties (COP21) is one of the most unique COPs ever held in the history of UNFCCC. Not only due to the urgency of achieving universal agreement on Climate but also of its uncommon opening plenary that is held on SUNDAY!

This year, Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) parties have decided to held their procedural meeting a day earlier in order to kick-start the technical negotiations required to achieve a universal agreement by the end of COP21.

The opening plenary was graced by the presence of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also known for his role as the President of COP21, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of UNFCCC, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal President COP 20 and 1,300 attendees around the globe.

Before the opening ceremony of the plenary, a minute of silence was held for Paris in response to the recent barbaric attack at Paris. It is then President COP20 highlighted the importance of finding solution in an articulated manner.

“To be effective we need clear solution. We need to be solution oriented. We also need full trust. This means – inclusiveness, transparency and efficiency of the whole process. Decision has to be solidified by the first week of COP21.” – President of COP20, Manuel

In support of the statement given by President COP20, 150 heads of state and ministers gave their opening speech at COP on 30th November 2015. The political language expressed are required to be translated into concrete mechanisms, that to be adopted and transformed into a universal agreement at the end of Paris COP21.

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President of COP21, Mr. Laurent Fabias

“We have to to decide how to live on this planet together where, everyone has the access to sustainable development. My priority is to facilitate the attainment of the ambitious agreement among all countries” says, President of COP21, Fabias.

The work of ADP is to be completed by Friday, 4th Dec 2015, and have the negotiation text to be finalized by the mid of second week. If, we want to achieve a universal agreement by 11th December 2015.

Written by: Jolene Journe T.