«Same old story, same old song;
Goes alright, until it goes all wrong..»
Close to a year has passed since last UNFCCC intersession in Bonn, but how far have we gone?
Certainly, preparation meetings and secretarial workshops prior to COP17 in Durban have been taking much of many a delegate’s energy, time and consequently sleep; especially of those, who also contribute to the 5th IPCC report. Right after the Durban conference has – strenuously prolonged – finished, many-a-delegate were also rushing off straight into UNCSD Rio+20 agenda in New York (a series of preparatory meetings before the summit, in what is now less than a month’s time!). So, in short, stress has been building up, and no wonder that many find it hard to keep aflow following all these processes simultaneously, let alone contributing actively; – it is tearing apart for one person, no matter how experienced or whether with a been-there-done-that attitude.
For the side of things in Russia, it has been no exception; until as recent as a week ago! Although there have been ‘winter demonstrations’ nicknamed the Russian Spring, the amazing thing was the relative peacefulness and perhaps quietness, with, meanwhile, re-elections of the President-to-be, anew. And usually I would not go as politically as this, but the current flavour provides way of a different context to the whole story. – Past few years have been hard for ENGOs and IGOs working in the eco-sector, not least due to some political decision-enacting; and in the case with climate change and recent agenda developments, one was able to perceive how important the topic actually is, in governance; albeit not necessarily mirrored in federal priorities.
«One hand will take; one hand will give –
That’s all We know, and that is how We live!
One day – Hello; and the next day – Goodbye.
..And Everyone does their part.»
Notably, last day of April has had the Kremlin published the so-called ‘Basic Principles of State Environmental Development Policy of the Russian Federation through to 2030’; one of the last documents signed by then-President D. Medvedev. And the day after – Russia traditionally embarked on 10 days of holidays.. but in a somewhat unusual way this time; the inauguration of the new President coincided, being May 7th. So, on 6th May, people demonstrated their attitude in the city centre (google: March of Millions); however, and again, in an unusual way – they were met with OMON forces to restore what should have been considered civil order.
A significant portion of this day’s protesters were youth, among them also environmental activists, who kept on going; – or attempts thereof. [And normally, and once more, I would not be found writing in such detail on this topic were it not for my personal experience the very next day: I am an avid jogger come spring time and greening landscape, early morning every day, as a result of my schooling requirements years ago.] That particular morning – exiting home to fresh air and blooming scents – had the blood quickly boiling in my veins; all streets were already chained off, and I faced OMON forces who told me to turn off the green, without answering why. On my way I saw loads of trucks and men; clearly they have been positioned and waiting there much earlier than 7am. By and by, realization dawned on me that Moscow is a scary place to be..
The next few days made it even more surreal, as professionally I was concentrated on continuing rounds of UNCSD negotiations in New York as well as in preparation for this UNFCCC intersession.. whereas the immediate reality was denied access to main streets (inclusive the area where our UN building is, wherein people were continuing working as other parts of the world were not on holidays, you see), on and around which, however, groups of people continued non-violent demonstrations. The sight of unusual numbers of policemen became normality, until – and again – OMON forces were chaining off and occupying streets, eventually even outside my doorsteps.
These demonstrations were largely not webcast into masses, except social media networks; they were continuing non-stop, despite people being – at times violently – chased, arrested, then shipped off.
«One builds you up; One tears you down.
To Some you’re a Saint, but to Others you’re a Clown!»
Eventually, I had to remain home in order to get to safely fly out for UNFCCC (as, at some point, mere going outside equaled risk of arrest); my morning jogs became some sort of weather checks; right around the corner of my house, colleagues and friends from the environmental sector were demonstrating silently, then willingly walking into OMON tracks for deporting, while onlooking car drivers applauded their actions.. As this fight continued, the city did not dare to breathe. At some point, even, one of the OMON men declined to continue these deporting arrests, showing his human(-itarian) side.
Believe it or not, but in fact the fight continues non-stop(!) to this day and moment, and onwards. Protesting people coordinate their time-slots, and divide into groups; colleagues of mine even organized eco-awareness-workshops at one of the demo’s. Some of these turn-ups were also attended by local politicians, including the opposition/green party Yabloko. Then again, today other people were joined by national poets and writers for “a test to see if we can walk the streets”. See for yourself:
«What can You do? – I just go on, I see it through;
..And hold on to what is left of You.»
To be here in Bonn for a round of UN climate talks is as surreal, and as faraway, as the above picture. So where does this leave us for the next two weeks of upcoming negotiations? For the Russian state of things, it is certainly hard to say; by the looks of it, it is all up in the air and anything can happen. The newly-established government might not come in effect, and nobody knows to what country I might be returning by June.
This, at least in non-framed theory, means that any and all proposals for negotiation processes are as much void as possible for consideration and future adoption or implementation. Ponder on this thought, and then imagine the possibilities! It is a gap in time, in space, in history of our making..
Personally, I am looking forward to week 2, wherein mitigation and response mechanism consultations will take place – an issue regarding KP 2.3.2 & MRV/SBI that I have been part of since pre-COP17. You can find the updated info here and see the parties submissions over here .
P.s. Also don’t forget, if you have not already done so, to check the schedule overview! =) The intersession starts officially tomorrow, with many informal group and bilateral meetings having taken most of today.
As for the Rio+20 outlook, UNCSD-ers inform that apparently Russia’s now-President has decided not to attend the upcoming G8 assembly, but shall show up in Brazil for this summit!
«Now you’re going; then, you’re gone.
Same old story.. Same Old Song.»
About the authorStacey Wilenkin
прозрачный обозреватель... ...transparent observer