Climate Talks, COP18 - Doha

The Doha Bulletin: December 7th

This article is written by Béatrice Cointe.

Things have been getting crazier this week as the high-level segment has begun. It is now perfectly normal to walk by Ban Ki Moon in the corridors, or to have a group of BASIC countries ministers sitting down on the table next to yours for some informal corridor talks on the future of the Durban Platform.

As to where how negotiations have been progressing this far, it is getting harder to keep track. One sure thing, though, is that they’re (as usual) likely to stretch late into the night.COP18 Plenary Stocktaking Pic 7-12

Negotiators have broken down into various groups dealing with different agenda items, most of the work yesterday was going on behind closed doors, and nobody has a clear idea of when the very last plenaries will be able to start. Not to make things any easier, this is a paperless COP, which means information is never going to be handed over to you before you’ve started thinking about looking for it.

As you know, negotiations this week have been going through three streams: Good Ol’ AWG-KP and AWG-LCA, and the young and (presumably) fresh ADP.

The President called for an informal stock-taking plenary earlier this afternoon, so as to get a better view of the remaining work. AWG-KP, still working on KP 2, closed yesterday and forwarded unresolved issues to the CMP (Conference serving as the Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol). Ministers Luiz Alberto Figueireido Machado from Brazil and ard Vegar Solhjell from Norway are conducting ministerial consultations on KP issues at the moment. The current text has numbers, which is a step forward from Durban, but is still crammed with brackets and footnotes and options.

AWG-LCA, hopelessly tangled in brackets over the Bali Action Plan, is supposed to be closed for good at the end of this COP, and is going through a slow and painful agony. Yesterday afternoon, the Maldives and Switzerland started conducting ministerial consultations on finance, which are still going on right now. The finance part aside, a draft streamlined text on LCA was circulated this morning. As I am writing, I am sitting in Plenary Room 2, where the AWG-LCA closing plenary was scheduled to start one hour ago.

ADP is expected to deliver a work programme on the Durban Platform and to pave the way to the 2015 deal, which so far implies:

  1. Defining what this outcome « with a legal force » « applicable to all » « under the Convention » means, and
  2. finding ways to bridge the ambition gap.

A draft text was made available, and according to the ADP Co-Chair most of the issues can be dealt with finalising the text. Groups are also working on Loss and Damage, Climate Technology Center and Network, and Reporting Mechanisms. Things seems to be revolving about reaching a « balanced package », the contours of which are now getting clearer, according to the President.

However, he has still not forwarded the work of the various groups to the COP, and called for another informal stock-taking plenary this evening at 6pm. He looked surprisingly relaxed for a COP President, inserting jokes between each interventions and not seeming too concerned about time constraints. « I am close to my home, I am in no rush », he said with a smile, « if you wish to go home soon, finish the text, it is in your hands ». Overall, the atmosphere doesn’t feel particularly tense, even though many Parties stressed that time was running out – but, when it comes to climate negotiations, time has now been running out for long enough for every one to get used to it…

This is a snapshot from earlier today. It could not be posted immediately as for some unspecified reason wireless refused to work in the Plenary room. Since it was written, the AWG-LCA text has been forwarded to the COP, the AWG-LCA has been closed, and the President appointed two ministers to assist him in conducing consultations on « a limited set of critical concerns » to be addressed before presenting the LCA text to the COP.
Or, as Watkinson says:

tweet watkinson cop18

About the author: Béatrice Cointe is a PhD student at CIRED where she works on policy issues related to photovoltaic energy. She holds a joint Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Sciences Po Paris and University Pierre and Marie Curie. She was part of a french NGO’s delegation to the 2009 Copenhagen Conference and has been obsessed with climate change ever since. She is also the former Research Director of CliMates.

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