COP15 ARTICLES: Queues, protests and ministers

PUBLISHED IN BALADNA SYRIAN NEWSPAPER. 16th DECEMBER 2009

Bella center is a small representation of the world and the mankind. Countries cooperating and arguing, people sharing their fears, dreams, hopes, interests or hates. Economic interests surrounding most of the conversations. Politicians, activists, journalist, celebrities, students, policemen, waiters, cleaners, etc., who care or not about the final result of the Conference.
In the world there also queues, as those since Monday are blocking the Bella Center, with participants just arriving being forced to spend between six to eight hours in registration lines at 0°C. At this stage of the Conference the total number of people requesting accreditation had hit more than 40,000, thus far exceeding the 15,000 capacity of the convention center, so entrance limitations have just started and more are expected for the high-level segment set to begin on Wednesday. Mayor restrictions will be applied to NGOs which reacted angrily to this and complained about being excluded from the process breaking one of the main principles repeated during the conference, “accountability, transparence and the role constructive and vital of civil society.”
Meanwhile, negotiations continue with the same pattern as the days before, with fear, mistrust and suspicion having come to rule – particularly between industrialized and developing countries. Substantive work on the long-term cooperative action (LCA) issues has been suspended at different stages due to the “deadlock” between these two main blocks.
With Ministers already involved in negotiations, protests raised again among developing countries as only LCA issues were to be discussed at the ministerial level while Kyoto Protocol commitments by develop countries were not planned to have enough attention at the ministerial level. This was solved by the presidency leading to an agreement to hold informal consultations on “crunch issues” under both negotiations tracks. “It looks like rich countries wanted to wash their hands with regard their commitments” criticized a delegate of the African Union.

Leer más

COP15 ARTICLES: Drivers for Arab Involvement


 PUBLISHED IN BALADNA SYRIAN NEWSPAPER. 15th DECEMBER 2009
The 2009 report on climate change of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development found that greenhouse emissions in the Arab World contribute merely 4.2% to the global emissions. However, the impact of climate change on the fragile environment of the region and its people is expected to be immense as its been experience in Syria:  change in natural weather patterns, scarcity of food and water, loss of coastal areas, disruption to ecosystems, and adverse effects on human health are just some of the direct threats.
In spite of this, and the related social and political consequences that climate change can have over the region, climate negotiations have been over the years underestimated by Arab countries, with the exception of the Arab oil producer’s countries which followed the negotiations in order to defend their own economic interests.
The small number of journalists, civil society organizations or clean energy specialists from the Arab and Middle East world, together with the weakness of the positions of most of their delegations does not look to be counteracted with the assistance of some of its top leaders: Mubarak, Bouteflika or Ahmadinejad together with Salam Fayyad from Palestine, Abbas El Fassi from Morocco, Prince Hamzah from Jordan, Hariri from Lebanon and the Ministers of Environment of Syria and Turkey among others, are expected to come to Copenhagen.
However, COP15 has to be a turning point. The Arab world cannot ignore a problem that will affect directly its whole 500 millions population. So the real work starts after the end of the conference: creation of special units at the top levels of governments with enough executive capacities to put countries on the track of low carbon sustainable systems; establishment of public-private partnerships aimed to implement the different financial mechanism that will be decided in COP15; training of senior staff in the different environmental, financial or political areas affected; awareness and education campaigns for the whole population, etc…  Are we ready?
Leer más

COP15 ARTICLES: There is not Planet “B”

PUBLISHED IN BALADNA SYRIAN NEWSPAPER ON 14TH DECEMBER 2009


With the support of different events organized in other parts of the world, an estimated number of 100.000 demonstrators marched on Saturday from the Copenhagen city centre to the heavily fortified Convention centre where climate talks have been celebrating. The gathering was mostly festive in spite of different groups that tried to alter the peaceful sense of the march.
Most of the participants bore slogans related to global warming and calls for action of world leaders in other to resolve the vast differences that until now have been expressed in the different meetings. Clear messages, full of sense and love, oriented to raise a common concern that could change the negotiations and the way the world is moving towards an unprecedented climate crisis.
Meanwhile, and with no meetings scheduled for Sunday, talks will restart on Monday with delegations completely structured around their top officials. Until now, parties had mainly repeated their “well-known positions”. The European Union is one of the negotiating blocks that defend a single agreement. Developing countries defend a two tracks agreement – Kyoto Protocol with deep emissions cuts for the rich countries and a less binding accord for the poor- differing of the European proposal as they consider that this could mean an evasion of the historical responsibility by developed countries as mayor emitters of greenhouse gases since the XIX century. On the other hand, and as the United States will not ratified Kyoto Protocol with the rest of develop countries, most of the developing countries are not willing to assume binding commitments, especially emergent economies as China, India or Brazil, without a clear leadership of industrialized countries.
With little movement during the first week on some of the key issues, many delegates were thinking about the way forward: “We must work hard so that by this time next week, we can celebrate a fair and ambitious agreement: the momentum generated for this conference is simply unprecedented and far too valuable to lose,” commented one slightly concerned but determined party.
Leer más

COP15 ARTICLES: A LONG AND HARD WAY OF LEARNING


PUBLISHED IN BALADNA SYRIAN NEWSPAPER. 13 DECEMBER 2009
Let’s imagine that climates change talks are an envelope, in which its forehead it’s written “environment”, “climate change” or lets say “the future of human civilization”. But, when we open it, surprisingly it can be see that what is inside the envelope is a full range of figures, commitments and financial agreements that are, in fact, talking about world economy and trade.
Because may be, climate talks are just that, economy talks and may be is the only way by which humankind is currently able to face its self-inflicted damage to the earth system. However, understand the future of earth as a single economic issue is causing a deep distrustful and unenthusiastic feeling among participants in the conference.
Thus, and after one week of meetings, a perception among the different participants of the conference, parties, non-governmental organizations, journalist or academics, is the existence of many gaps that impede to give a sense of totality to the negotiations and the whole issue of climate change. A gap between what science says and policymakers; between politicians and society; between what is been saying outside the plenary of the conference and the negotiating parties; between what developed countries offer and developing countries claim. Something is missed. Dessima Williams, Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) expressed her concerns on this regard: “We must rebalance the way we live… in the field of economy, ecology, ethics… a shift must occur…”
As we wait for the second week and the expected arrival of more than 100 heads of government who own the key for a successful financial agreement in the fields of adaptation, mitigation or technology transfer among others, voices of developing countries start to launch messages that make more understandable the aim of this conference, to improve life of poor people under a sustainable environment: “while you are meeting, I am working in a evacuation plan for my island”, “the grassroots of climate change is the historical responsibility”, “Africa is dying… my house is leaking… we appeal to you to discuss…”, “we appeal to President Obama to act, as President of the Americans,… and the Africans”.
Leer más

COP15 ARTICLES: Decreasing temperatures, raising tensions in COP15


PUBLISHED IN BALADNA SYRIAN NEWSPAPER. 10 DECEMBER 2009
While the temperature in Copenhagen is little above freezing, the atmosphere at the Bella Center, venue of COP15, is heating up amid confirmations that more than 100 government heads will attend the high-level segment of the conference on 17-18 December to push for an agreement.
The preliminary findings from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report, which final version is expected in March, have shocked even the biggest alarmist, with the WMO reporting evidence of global warming. Findings suggest that this year is likely to be ranked as one of the hottest 10 since 1850, and with the current decade being also the hottest on record.
 
In contrast, however, top leaders remain optimistic following leaks of the expected final text, which has dominated the every day agenda. But differences among the G77, a group of 130 mostly developing countries, including Syria are growing wider on almost all crucial issues, making it increasingly difficult for the climate talks to produce a consensus. A major division within the group is between poor countries and nations with rapidly evolving economies, but interests also vary between countries with and without oil production and countries with and without large forests.
Regardless, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon optimistically predicted on Tuesday, that a robust agreement to combat climate change will be reached in Copenhagen and implemented immediately. “From all corners of the globe we see unprecedented momentum for a deal,” the UN chief told reporters at UN headquarters. “I’m encouraged and I’m optimistic.”
But leaks in the final text are also playing a role, with the British newspaper “The Guardian” claiming to have an official Danish proposal for a compromise text which “shows deep unease” among G77 block.
Leer más

COP15 ARTICLES: Saudis economical interests as of the main points for a future success of Copenhagen

PUBLISHED IN BALADNA SYRIAN NEWSPAPER. 9 DECEMBER 2009

With the America’s Environmental Protection Agency announcing that greenhouse gases are a danger to human health, President Obama has changed his plans for attendance to Copenhagen from the first week of the conference, following his trip to Oslo for tomorrow’s Nobel Prize ceremony, delaying his attendance to the last and decisive days of the conference the 18th of December.
As everything of significance to the treaty is announced late in the meetings, often on the last day, it looks that this change of plans can suggest that a “deal” is already in the bag, and Obama want to be part of a decision and a picture that will mark the beginning of a serious and binding commitment by every world nation in the coming years.
US President ran into office with the clear idea to support green energy in order to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases and reduces the use of fossil fuels, also with the objective to gain energetic independence.
However, Obama’s energetic independence objectives have been considered as unrealistic by Saudis and arguments have been confront by the Islamic Kingdom in order to put aside the President’s rhetoric of energy independence and instead recognize interdependence of energy producers and consumers.
With a position considered for many parties involved in the negotiations as harmful and against the general interest aimed to combat global warming and with a “long history of playing an obstructionist role at climate conferences” Saudi Arabia is one of the main players in COP15. Its influence over the rest of Arab countries, and its importance as the first world oil producer, together with its relation with the United States makes of its position one of the determinant factors for a possible success of the negotiations.
Through a quiet campaign during these and other negotiations, Saudis with its lead negotiator Mohammad Al-Sabban has demand, that oil-producing nations get special financial assistance if a new climate pact calls for substantial reductions in the use of fossil fuels. Specifically, Saudi Arabia wants access to funds within an existing UN scheme dedicated to combat climate change effects considering that “Adaptation is not only to the impact of climate change but also the impact of climate policies.” This position has raised the critics of the least developing countries which considered Saudi position as unfair with those populations that have not the revenues of oil to fight climate change.

Leer más