I was very positive and ambitious when I started to watch and track the negotiations in Bonn this year, and I was really looking forward to see my expectations fulfilled. However, after more than one week of negotiations, I haven’t seen any of the actions that countries committed to do in the first half of 2012 under the new Durban Platform happen here in Bonn.
I think negotiators are just wasting time and not sticking to what their ministers agreed to in Durban. I’ve seen agenda and chair fights instead of fights over who will do more to help solve the biggest and the most important problem humanity faces – climate change. This really disappoints me and made me think again about my expectations for the annual conference of parties (COP18) in Doha at the end of the year; whether they will be fulfilled. If countries keep moving at this slow pace, COP18 will be a flop like too many past conferences, Copenhagen notably among them.
I know that Qatar is doing its best to make this year’s conference perfect, and negotiators today told Qatar that they want to work with them to make COP18 a success. However, I don’t think my expectations will be fulfilled in Doha. I don’t even know if there will be any negotiating days between Bonn and Doha or not, and while countries agreed to plan their work for the Durban Platform (or ADP) – a process agreed during the major climate conference in Durban, COP17, which is expected to result in a new global climate agreement by 2015 – they couldn’t even agree to the agenda of that work plan!!
So one week of climate negotiations passed and the second week came and country’s delegates are still negotiating, but with different minds and different goals. Some parties want to leave discussions on increasing climate action off the agenda of work, while others are arguing about who will chair and co-chair the ADB.
From my observations, I can see that some countries are blocking the talks because they are concerned about some developed countries not taking the needed urgent climate action to cut emissions (mitigation action); or worse, jumping away from their legally binding commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Countries blocking for these reasons are the big developing countries like China, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Venezuela and the Philippines. They requested that the discussion on mitigation ambition is removed from the ADP agenda ensure that it is addressed under the other negotiating tracks – which have more clearly defined roles mandating developed countries take legally binding targets while developing countries only commit to voluntary action – KP and LCA
Removing mitigation ambition from the agenda of the Durban platform discussions is not good for countries like AOSIS (small islands states) because they are the most vulnerable states to the impacts of climate change. They want to make sure mitigation ambition stays in all of the negotiating tracks, including the ADP. I totally agree with AOSIS on this. Making sure ambition is discussed in all negotiation tracks, including the Durban Platform (ADP), will better ensure their home lands’ survival. Also, we need to to reduce our emissions regardless of any country’s situation or interest.
Since yesterday, there were at least two informal meetings between the parties – closed meetings, which we as observers could not attend – to come up with a solutions about deleting the ADP agenda item on mitigation ambition. And today, in the corridors, I heard that countries may reach a compromise.
To add pressure, the youth constituency (YOUNGO) made a wonderful action to lobby the parties to solve the issue immediately. Negotiations were scheduled to decide this issue late Wednesday.
While I haven’t heard many notable statements by Arab negotiators in relation to the ADP over the past days, one statement caught my attention. Last Saturday, when countries wanted to adopt the Durban Platform agenda, Saudi Arabia made a very weird intervention that seemed pointless: ‘’ how can we adopt an agenda with a non-elected chairman.” Indeed, the chairs of the platform have not yet been agreed, but the fact is, regardless who is chairing, it is the negotiators who take the decisions not the chairman. The chairman is only moderating the plenary. His thoughts and ideas should be approved by the parties which make the chairman and the mandated moderator the same.
And in yesterday’s LCA session, Venezuela gave a logical intervention on behalf of 45 countries, 16 Arab countries included, saying that having a separate agenda item on enhancing mitigation ambition only under the ADP would ‘’render meaningless’’ the ongoing discussions under the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA given these tracks are the current homes of mitigation action in the process.
photos credits: www.iisd.ca
About the authorMostafa Medhat (مصطفى مدحت)
Mostafa Medhat is a young environmental activist and campaigner from Alexandria, Egypt. His aim is to create a strong and educated generation of leaders for a sustainable present and future that would make the world a better place. He goes by the motto ‘’ aspire inspire before he expires