13.45 local time
Day 1 of the negotiations. As the last few days from my stay in Brussels and the trip to the Danish capital have been very hectic indeed, I will leave my experience from the Climate Express for the last day of the journay, as a wrap-up to tell this story.
I had planned to come and work in Copenhagen mostly as a volunteer as I had not fixed goals other than to know more about this whole thing and ride the Climate Express. However and almost by chance I have become fully involved with the work of Friens of the Earth (FoE) and I will spend the next two weeks reporting to them daily on "Climate Finance" and "Africa", and on the bilateral meeting in which Spain takes part.
This morning was the open ceremony of the Conference of the Parties in its 15th session, or commonly known as COP15. It is amazing how many accronims are used in these type of events... There are some 20 basic ones I am slowly getting used to, but it is hard to keep track of all of them, so please bear with me too!
There were speeches from the Danish Primer Minister (writing names is really boring, so you are further interested, please Google!), the Copenhagen Major, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) the chair of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change), the Chairman of the COp14 which took place in Poznan (Poland) last year, and the Danish Minister for Energy and Climate Change who during the session has become President of COP15.
I will just mention the parts that are interesting to mention. There was an introduction video which showed a girl who wakes up in a world hit by extreme weather events. She's in the middle of the dessert and in the horizo there is what seems a catergory-5 tornado and then a sweeping flood. Then she actually wakes up, and goes to tell her father the nightmare. He takes her in front of the TV so that the girl watches the video of the famous Canadian girl who silenced the UN with her amazing speech on the state of the global environment, Severn Suzuki, during the '92 Rio Summit. Here is the video:
The whole video was obviously not shown, but I kept this sentence:
"In my fear I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel".
I will not talk about the performance that took place afterwards by the Danish Girls Choir. Although the guy playing the trumpet along was good, worth having done a solo.
I also learned that South Africa made a significant commitment to the COP15 process yesterday so I am happy about that.
When individual countries had the chance to speak, Papua and New Guinea (PNG) asked for its turn. This is the funny TV-like part that everyone knows about the UN. They ask for a revision of the rule 42 of the convention that deals with voting. I am not sure what exactly this rule is about, but I think that there was never consensus to establish a voting procedure than consensus itself during the COP1, so consensus is still needed to reach agreement. Since we know that one or tow countries, ehem, Canada's only neighbour, ehem as it was addressed in the various conferences that took place in the Climate Express, ehem, PNG requested a passing bill to be set at 2/3 of all votes. When the chairlady replied it will be revised, PNG insisted and then Brazil demanded that the rule will not be discussed at this point as it takes up time of intervention (this rule has been tiredlessly discussed for 15 years and there has never been an agreement, so Brazil was actually right). Then Saudi Arabia, DRC and Sierra Leona supported. Sierra Leona did so to know that we know they are still a coutry, and speaking at a UN summit was Sierra Leona's national greatest achievement for decades (...) Palestina claimed at the end of the turn that its voice is heard in the high profile sessions of second week Wednesday, which the chair replied are guaranteed under UN rules (they can speak after all other parties, as Palestine is an observer of the UN and not a member).
Then countries representing groups spoke. The world (and the UN) is divided into groups for the FCCC, with one country as its representative: G-77 + China (Sudan; I need to know more about this group); Africa (Algeria); Saudi Arabia (Middle East); Lesotho (Least Developed Countries, LDCs); Granada (Alliance of Small Island States, ASIS); Environmental Integrity Group (I have not idea what this is, not least because only Mexico, South Korea, Monaco, Liechenstein and Switzerland are in it, Mexico speaking today); the Umbrella Group (Japan, Norway, Iceland, Kazajstan, Russia, Ukraine, US, Canada, New Zeland, with Australia speaking. I assume these are all developed coutries outside the EU and financial paradise-countries, and of course, Kazajstan), and finally the EU (Sweden).
On a key note, Saudi Arabia's speech was dedicated to the recent hickjacking of high profile climate related-documents from the University of East Anglia (my university!) and expressed concern over the change and elimination of some of them and what this means for the COP15 process and climate change (on another key note Saudi Arabia did not mention what its economy does to climate change).
The best intervention was actually Lesotho's, who asked for clear commitments, amongst these that developing countries dedicate 1.5% of their GDP to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, and other key numbers. Australia and particularly the EU were rather disspointing. It seems clear that there needs to be a 40% cut globally by 2020 in carbon emissions to stay below the 2ºC that science says we need to avert catastrophic climate change this century and beyond. The IPCC chair this morning says that emissions have to peak in 2015. Well, Australia and the EU pledged a 50% reduction by 2050 and the EU committed to a peak in 2020. Both representatives gave financial offering to developing countries well below what they need to adapt.
Woho, still haven't eaten yet, but running to the next lecture, "Benefits of New Carbon Market Mechanisms" by a guy from the UK. Then at 18.00 I am attending "Financing in Mitigation in Local Communities" (France).
15.00 on the dot local time