Cancun highlights: day 4 (and a bit of day 5)

The REEEP SEAP team started the Thursday (2 December 2010) with a quick bus trip to the Cancun Messe to attend the BINGO meeting. For the rest of the day, most of the COP meetings were informal session and observers were not allowed to sit in. Some delegates, still “traumatised by Copenhagen,” expressed concerns over transparency and questioned why so many discussions were taking place behind closed doors.

Instead, we had a listen to a series of presentations on private sector reactions to the report of the Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing.

As you can imagine with our interest in the Pacific Island Countries, we went to an event on taking action on climate change in the PICs. The event, organised by SPREP, focussed largely on the vulnerability of the PICs and their adaptation strategies and so renewables/ energy efficiency didn’t get much airtime. It was quite heartbreaking to see all the effects of climate change on the islands and inspiring to follow the countless efforts of countries such as Cook Islands, Samoa and Solomon Islands, to adjust to the changing environments. Their presentations were also supported by speakers from the Secretariat for the Pacific Communities (SPC), and the University of the South Pacific (USP).

Other interesting observations

The International Council for Sustainable Energy (ICSE) presented a formal intervention during the SBI on Tuesday 30 November 2010 on the role of private sector in the negotiations. Other business groups, such as the International Chamber of Commerce, also put pressure on the Chair of the SBI for greater observer access and improved private sector engagement. During the contact group meeting on Thursday, Parties considered draft conclusions on enhancing the engagement of observer organisations. This seems to have led to a win for the observer organisations: the SBI contact group is open to observers as of Friday 3 December 2010.

On Thursday, the carbon markets featured among the most prominent topics of the day. “Markets are an important tool for setting a price for carbon and reducing emissions, but the private sector is increasingly anxious about the future of international carbon trading. Copenhagen failed to provide the necessary clarity and now time is running out.”

Japan’s statement that it will not sign up for a second Kyoto Protocol commitment period is not helping. It has caused unrest, and there’s a division between Parties: some think Japan’s position is for real, others just continue the negotiations as if it hasn’t happened. It seems that there are countries in the world that cannot imagine the world without a Kyoto Protocol and there are countries that cannot imagine the world with KP.

Seriously, we just need an answer. Is it a yes, or is it a no? Because, stepping back from a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol by some serious players may create momentum to step up progress under LCA and get cracking on new market mechanisms.

Meanwhile, nuclear energy and CCS are still being considered under CDM…

Will we see an outcome in Cancun?

Rumour has it that the Mexican COP Presidency is likely come up with some draft text in the coming days to ensure we reach an outcome in Cancun. We could even see the Copenhagen Accord transformed into a new accord under the Convention with enhanced pledges.

Who knows? With China now openly supporting a legally-binding outcome under the Convention, it could all happen….

On a lighter note, some negotiators were wearing casual T-shirts with the phrase, “I am under the authority of the COP,” or “I am under guidance of the COP.”

Maaike & Eva in Cancun (REEEP Southeast Asia and Pacific)

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