Tag Archives: UNFCCC

An update from inter-sessional climate talks in Bangkok

This year, there will be three “inter-sessional” sets of climate change negotiations. These are generally seen as preparatory negotiations preparatory to the end-of-year COPs. They are attended by civil servants, but not by ministers or heads of state. The first of 2011’s inter-sessionals is now underway in Bangkok, and the Climate Justice Movement has just released the statement below. Note that LCA refers to “long-term cooperative action”, which is one of the two core but parallel negotiating tracks currently being pursued under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the other track being further development of the Kyoto Procol. Annex I countries are the rich, developed countries.

Annex I countries : Put up or Shut Up!

Climate change negotiations in Bangkok have stalled over a dispute about the agenda of the LCA and commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

The agenda set for the LCA will determine the course of the negotiations for 2011, and likely well into the future.  Continue reading

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Registration for COP17 in Durban closes in March

If you wish to attend COP17, but the organisation you are associated with is not registered with the UNFCCC secretariat, you need to move quite fast to register.

For those organizations that are interested in attending COP17 in South Africa that have not yet been admitted as an Observer organization with the UNFCCC (meaning an organization that can accredit individuals to participate in UNFCCC meetings), the deadline is approaching quickly (Tuesday, March 1, 2011).

Information on how to get your application in to the UNFCCC Secretariat (well before March 1, 2011 is safer) can be found at:http://unfccc.int/parties_and_observers/ngo/items/3667.php . Look on the webpage under Standard admission process (pdf).

Questions about this can be directed to the UNFCCC Secretariat Observer Liaison Officer (Megumi Endo, <MEndo@unfccc.int>).

Note that UN registration is of course not required to attend NGO events that will be organised outside of the official UN spaces.

The UNFCCC also usually organises a “climate village”, which is open to the general public, but if Cancun was anything to go by, most used by business and tourism interests.

NOVEMBER UPDATE: Please note, registration for the UN COP and side-events (all events at the International Convention Centre and Durban Exhibition Centre) closed at the end of September. There is no way to get in now. However, you can still attend many other related events that are being organised outside the official COP at the same time.

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A very short introduction to climate negotiations

Climate negotiations – an elaborate set of rituals intended to give the impression that our world’s governments care about climate change, when everyone knows that the role of most modern governments is mostly to serve as flunkies to mostly polluting big business, and big business generally doesn’t care very much about climate change because it’s run by guys with incipient prostate cancer who only need their golf courses to remain above water for the next twenty or so years and apparently don’t give a toss about their children.

(Actually, the Milnerton golf course in Cape Town is already threatened by sea-level rise.)

So how does the global theatre work?

The draft script was written at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. There, the world created (amongst other ‘instruments’), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This convention basically established that climate change caused by human influences, particularly burning fossil fuels, was potentially a very big problem, and Something Needed to Be Done. Ever since 1992, all formal international negotiations on what humanity needs to do about climate change have proceeded in terms of the UNFCCC framework.

The UN agreement established two categories of countries, rich countries that have already poured huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the course of building their economies (listed as Annex 1), and not-so-rich and poor countries (Annex 2) that are still developing their capacity to pour large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and don’t see why they should have to stop.

‘We have the right to emulate the very poor and selfish example set by you rich guys,” say the Annex Two-ers, including South Africa, and if you want us to stop before we’ve contributed our full share of planetary destruction, you need to pay lots of money.’ But where will this money come from? Rich countries have a wonderful track record of promising large amounts of money for development – and never delivering.

One interesting proposal for financing a climate fund is a tax on international financial transactions, sometimes called a Tobin Tax. This is described as a radical proposal, because it would be the first ever international tax. But perhaps the climate is right for such a tax, given the banking world’s current lack of popularity.

The Annex Two-ers also want ‘technology transfer’. ‘Give us money AND give us toys.’ This is another dimension to the whole fantasy, because in fact rich countries are furiously trying to extend their so-called ‘intellectual property rights’ into the developing countries, and the chances that they’ll suddenly reverse that process to help out drowning Bangladeshis are minimal.

Act II – The Kyoto Protocol
In 1997, a protocol to the UNFCCC agreement was signed, the Kyoto Protocol, named after the city in which it was agreed. The Kyoto Protocol for the first time set targets for countries to reduce their emissions by specific dates. The US signed but never ratified the Kyoto Protocol (no, not even after a big dose of ‘change you can believe in’) – having had the cheek to ask for a four-year delay in its implementation, which began in 2005. The first target dates under the Kyoto Protocol expire in 2012. Some countries have met their Kyoto Protocol targets, some have exceeded them. Yesterday, we heard that Japan is determined to kill the Kyoto Protocol. One colleague suggested they are embarrassed by its problems. Developing countries are very keen that the Kyoto Protocol should be extended, and will resist any efforts to kill it.

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Wriggling into the #COP16 climate negotiations

Climate Action Network meeting at the Universidad del Caribe, Cancun

Climate Action Network meeting at the Universidad del Caribe, Cancun

Okay, how did I get here? (By here, I mean here as a UN-accredited NGO delegate for the first week of proceedings.)

SAFCEI only took a decision to send me in early November. The official Mexican website for COP 16 at that stage indicated that all registrations for COP 16 had closed in March… Only later did I learn that was misleading – registrations for organisations seeking UNFCCC accreditation had indeed closed in March, but that did not mean registrations for individual had closed. There’s a lesson here though – if you are a member of an organisation wanting to be represented at COP 17 in Durban, your organisation will probably need to register early in 2011. You need to register with the UNFCCC secretariat (unfccc.int).

So I couldn’t go as SAFCEI. The next option was to try to go as press – press registrations closed only at the beginning of November – but I couldn’t find a SA news organisation willing to accredit me or take my copy.

Then I tried government – could I join the official SA delegation? SAFCEI wrote to the Department of Environmental Affairs, which didn’t raise any objections in principle – but said that the Department of Foreign Affairs had already finalised the SA delegation…

Climate Action Network meeting at the Universidad del Caribe, Cancun

Climate Action Network meeting at the Universidad del Caribe, Cancun

Then I stopped trying to get info from the rather inadequate Mexican COP 16 website and looked to the more comprehensive UNFCCC website. There I discovered that individuals who are invited by already accredited observer organisations can still register with the UN. Apparently the deadline for this was the end of September… but this proved not to be a problem, though I don’t know why. For while SAFCEI is an interfaith organisation, its constituents reflect our mostly Christian country, and so has strong links with ecumenical bodies such as the World Council of Churches. And the WCC has very kindly added myself, a Buddhist, to its delegation. And my first dives into the COP craziness have been via a network called the COP16 Ecumenical Coordination Group. Via them, I invited myself to a Climate Action Network meeting today. Happily, it turns out that SAFCEI is in fact a member of the Climate Action Network, though we are hardly so sanguine as they appear to be about issues such as carbon trading. “CAN is quite conservative,” someone told me today. But they’re also pretty well organised, and very helpful.

Lessons
– If you’re an organisation that doesn’t have UN accreditation yet, get it soon – these registrations will probably close in around March 2011.
– There are a number of different ways to get to the official negotiations.
– Ignore secondary information sources like this blog and go to the UNFCCC for all info about vital logistical stuff
– If you really want to go, don’t give up till you’ve exhausted every possible channel
– Hook up with networks, ideally those that reflect your interests

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Hello (warming) world

In December 2011, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) jamboree will arrive in Durban, South Africa, for the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17). South African civil society is already beginning to prepare for that event, and this blog will track those preparations, beginning with some first-hand accounts of the progress of the imminent COP 16 negotiations in Cancun, Mexico.

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