This morning, I spent an hour watching the main negotiating body. It was fascinating. While it seemed to start out as mostly an informational session or a chance for the COP-15 President to make some announcements, it quickly turned into the start of the bricklaying that will lead to the major negotiations early next week. The announcement that several potential plans, frameworks, protocols have been submitted to the Secretariat triggered quite a response from several delegates. Tuvalu, a small island state that is one of those most threatened by climate change, spoke for five minutes in support of their submitted amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to strengthen it before its expiration in 2012 and proposed a new Copenhagen Protocol which would offer legally binding emission reductions; support of technology, science, and adaptation centers; and stable financing for developing states. Their speech was received with rousing applause and started a chain of events that was fun to watch and gave me an idea of just how difficult this is going to be. ALL of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) lined up to support Tuvalu’s speech, plan, and general idea. Coastal African states came up next. Cape Verde was not subtle in their claims that climate change is a human rights issue and that folks will die. They went so far as to say that coastal and island people will not be the only to die, just the first. Cue second round of loud applause. Then, the other side started to line up against this plan. China, India, Venezuela, and the Middle East began giving statements to the contrary:
You are wasting our time…this is not the appropriate time to discuss this…we have a strong, existing protocol that should be implemented more fully.
No, the political will will never be higher than it is now…we must act…the time to act is now.
We have a strong protocol in place now…this is not the time to try to start a new discussion…it’s the time to finish the ongoing one.
After rounds and rounds of objections, it seemed like the President almost did not know what to do. She suggested the body move on; continue giving announcements.
Tuvalu: We object. These negotiations must be done with transparency. If all the negotiations will be behind closed doors between developed states, then we move to suspend COP-15.
A long pause…
President: “We are moving on.”
110 heads of state will arrive next week.
–Grant Galland, Scripps graduate student