Rosa reports on collapsing discussions on the eve of the ministerial discussions.
This could be the talks breaking down. I really hope not, but things don’t look good. The issues are extremely divisive and it does not seem like anyone is taking responsibility for moulding a consensus. The negotiators are stuck in the wheels and talking in circles. Everything today has been delayed, postponed, collapsed, reconvened behind closed doors, and then postponed again.
What I just heard in the discussions tonight was unbelievable. The meeting was intended to take stock of where discussion had concluded regarding the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol.
The first few working groups reported their progress, or more accurately lack there-of: for example, “there were some issues of consensus, and as a result the entire annex is in brackets”.
Ultimately, given the lack of resolution, they concluded that “we’ve reached the point where political direction is needed”.
Given that the draft text is not in a state to be presented to the ministers tomorrow, the chair asked the negotiators to take more leadership, arguing that “you can make decisions here and in the COPMOP (Conference of the Parties)”
To which the negotiators from Switzerland made a surprisingly frank response: “You tell us we can make decisions, that we need to meet again. But we have been working in drafting groups, to do what? Mr. Chairman? We were up till 2:00… we don’t know what to do next. Please tell us now, Tuesday evening, before the high-level segment, on where we will go? What will be the outcome? … For the time being, each time we go to the drafting groups, we add on versions in a very creative nature, and we go nowhere. Please explain to us where to go.”
Clearly, Switzerland didn’t get the answer he was looking for, as the chair responded:
“I’d love to be the one to determine that.. but I’m not responsible for ministerial discussions. If you give me the mandate, I could go write something up… but that’s not my job. I’m not responsible for what happened or failed to happen in the ministerial yesterday, what I do take responsibility for is the preparation of a report for the COPMOP. That is all I can do. You cannot ask me to give you clarity on what the president of the COPMOP has in mind. That is not my responsibility and I am not privy to that information. “
To which India retorted: “It will be very difficult to prepare a report to the COPMOP if we have NOTHING to report to the COPMOP.” Oh snap!
The translators needed a break and the room needed to be prepped for tomorrow’s state visitors, so the Chair closed the session and moved it into a closed contract group in a smaller room. I don’t know what happened there, as I am not allowed in.
The negotiators streamed out two hours later… reconvening in public a few minutes later. They’ve passed a text it seems, with the AOSIS representative congratulating the Chair on his hard work. They were particularly happy on lulucf elements, which makes sense given this breaking analysis from the
Now it’s midnight, and the next plenary on long-term cooperative action has not even started. Things will go till 2:00am at least.
Can you see how difficult this process is? Nobody can seem to reach a consensus, and everyone feels unable to cut through the deadlock. It’s clear that there has never been a political mandate behind most of these negotiators which would enable them to make the tough decisions.
Perhaps the presence of the state leaders tomorrow will change that, but for now… wish them luck! They’ll need it. And some sleep.
(And stay tuned for more updates, things are changing by the minute here.)
Much love from Copenhagen,
About the authorRosa Kouri
Rosa recently completed an MSc in Environmental Policy at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment. Rosa is originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and has a Joint Honours BA in Economics and Political Science from McGill University. Her research at Oxford focused on unpacking Green Jobs and understanding the multiple perspectives on job creation in the transition to a low-carbon economy.