Bitter Cold, Tough Negotiations Over Transparency
By Bob Baugh
December 17, 2009 - 1:59pm ET
Thursday morning found Copenhagen bitterly cold with a cutting wind and covered in snow …much like the negotiations and the feelings of civil society. The Bella Center is on lockdown mode with heads of state and elected governmental leaders arriving. Civil society (unions and other non-governmental organizations) representation has been cut to 300 out of the more than 10,000 in town. The trade union presence has been reduced to 9 delegates.
Inside the center confusion, anxiety and despair have taken hold over the past few days as posturing continued and debates about process reigned over substance. One of the few bright spots was our ongoing fight to keep just transition language in.
Two days ago, after meeting with the U.S. negotiator who accepted our suggestions on new language as better than his own, our attempt to get Argentina promote the compromise failed only to have a new version show up in the next draft. That survived until last night when India bracketed the language (objected). Then, we are told, Argentina approached them and said they wanted the language kept in and India agreed. We’ll see what happens when the next draft comes out.
If only it was as easy to reach agreement on other issues as it has been on our just transition language. No kidding. There are many critical issues like finance for adaptation, targets, forestry, border adjustments and more on the table that should have been resolved before now.
One of the most difficult issues revolves around the MRV, measurable reportable and verifiable emission reporting. This transparency is all about the idea of “trust but verify,” a much needed commodity to actually build trust between nations for the long term on meeting commitments. The U.S. has reporting of major emitters as a legal requirement whit the first reports coming in this January.
This morning Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed COP 15. She told the COP that the U.S. would participate in a $100 billion a year fund by 2020 to help the poorest most vulnerable developing countries. This was a much welcomed message and other nations have stepped up as well. She did however say it was contingent upon those nations also agreeing to meaningful mitigation efforts and reinforced the need for transparency (MRV).
Secretary Clinton closed her speech by quoting a Chinese proverb which says, “when you are in a common boat, you have to cross the river peacefully together.” She urged a constructive and creative approach toward a workable solution and said “we need to avoid negotiating approaches that undermine rather than advance progress toward our objective.”
Following her speech Secretary Clinton is living up to her words with back-to-back bilateral meetings with key developing and developed nations. She and others are back at the negotiating table with the clock ticking. Tomorrow more that 117 heads of state will meet. The betting is they did not come to Copenhagen to declare defeat. The challenge is to see what they will achieve.
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