Day 4 at COP 19: Low Expectations for Advancing the Durban Platform

COP 19 press crushby Difu Li T’14

It’s the 4th day of our stay at COP19, and no good news about the ADP yet (Advancing the Durban Platform, mentioned in Brian’s blog, Day 2).

Enough is enough.

NGOs were worried about the progress and planned to organize a huge protest inside the stadium by walking out of COP.  Leaders from major civil society gathered at level 0 and attracted a huge group of media. Given the tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan that almost destroyed the Philippines, they urged the parties to keep their commitment in Durban and to pave the road to Paris in 2015 with ADP agreement. After the statement, 13 NGOs, including Aksyan Klima Pilipinas, ActionAid, Bolivian Platform on Climate Change, Constryendo Puentes, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Ibon International, International Trade Union Confederation, LDC Watch, Oxfam International, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, Peoples’ Movement on Climate Change, and WWF, walked out of the stadium to show their disappointment about COP19.

The drama in Poland continued after they organized the “Coal and Climate summit” at the same time with COP19. Breaking news announced yesterday that Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk fired COP 19 President Marcin Korolec from his day job as Poland’s Minister of the Environment, together with another 8 ministers, to reshuffle his cabinet. The ministry’s foot-dragging on much-awaited regulations concerning exploration for shale gas and other fossil fuels seems to be behind Korolec’s dismissal. When we doubted whether he should continue to lead the COP19, a statement from Mr. Korolec confirmed that he will keep his post as the COP19 president until end of this week, and the dismissal actually allowed him to completely focus on the negotiation process. How much will this affect the final negotiation? I guess we will find out tomorrow.

Subnational initiatives

COP 19 day 4 panel 2The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and EUROCITIES organized events called “COP Presidency Cities and Sub-National Dialogue of the Cities Day” and “Raising the Level of Ambition Through Local Climate Action”. The purpose of these events was to bring together city leaders from around the world to highlight the work that is already happening on the ground in local municipalities. Topics included

  • enhancing adaptation and resilience at the local level;
  • enhancing global mitigation efforts through action at the local level

It’s surprising how concerned the local municipal officers were about the impact to their infrastructure as well as to local business. Insurance companies were actively debating when to increase the rate for compensation from damage due to climate change. Promotion for low carbon emission industries has been shared as good practices. Various incentives for more energy efficient transportation were also discussed. Green building was definitely the low hanging fruit for cities to implement their own climate change strategies. As cities accommodate over 50% of the population and consume 75% of the energy, it’s great to see the initiatives from subnational levels to find the solution. However, cities still need political and financial support from nations. Although negotiation at the plenary is disappointing, the collaboration at city levels gives us hope. Most importantly, they are ready!

Technology transfer

A new Technology Mechanism called the Climate Technology Centre and Network (“CTCN”) was established by UNFCCC in 2010 in Cancun. The mission of CTCN is to stimulate technology cooperation, to enhance the development and transfer of technologies, and to assist developing country parties at their request, consistent with their respective capabilities and national circumstances and priorities. It consists of:

(a) a Climate Technology Centre (CTC) and

(b) a network with the participation of the relevant institutions capable of responding to requests from developing country parties related to technology development and transfer.

After 2 years, a panel of experts announced that the CTCN will become operational upon its adoption at COP19. CTCN’s purpose is using technological and intellectual resources to implement essential technologies and will provide a crucial link between international technology experts and the people of developing nations. At the end of the event, the enthusiastic panel conveyed three main points: CTCN is “open for business,” so name your Non-Carbon benefits, and start submitting requests. It’s exciting to see another mechanism has been formalized to offer help to developing countries, beyond funding.

Low expectation for COP19

Apart from the encouraging side events, the main negotiation seems daunting. Followed by the NGO walk out, representatives of most of the world’s poor countries have walked out of increasingly fractious climate negotiations after the EU, Australia, the US and other developed countries insisted that the question of who should pay compensation for extreme climate events be discussed only after 2015. The closing of ADP scheduled on 6pm has been proposed to 9pm and then 11am on the next day. Grouped as an NGO, we are not allowed to audit the negotiation about ADP due to the limitation of space. The ADP discussion was thought to be the best part of COP, according to a PhD student from Tokyo University who has been to COP 5 times. The only opportunity now is the closing on 3pm and hopefully we can hear some good news.

In general, expectations for COP19 in Warsaw are low. Everyone is looking forward to COP20 in Lima and COP21 in Paris. However, do we have enough time to pave the road to Paris, and prevent the mess in Copenhagen? We will find out tomorrow. Let’s hope for the best.

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