Thursday, 10 December 2009

Other side of the coin

Here I am, 9:30pm, at one of the "Internet with Webcam for Skype and Messenger" computers at the Bella Center...
I am part of the secrecy, the other side of the coin. My regular work at the COPs consists on attending sessions where the drafting of texts (for every single item on the COP and COP/MOP agendas) takes place. I should intervene if something that is against my countries interests or principles is incorporated. The secrecy... or should I say the disconnect? The burden in each delegate's shoulders, many with prepared discourses for every single item on the agenda (And I wonder: do they really mean it? Is that really based on the "most recent scientific evidence?"). The art of repeating the words creates truth.

"Old" and "new" blood on the part of the delegations mix in every session; the "old guard" playing the game: last minute inclusion of some wording on the text; the use of verbs or adjectives that irritates the enemy; asking for the bracketing (the ever present brackets that inundate the text) and therefore putting the negotiation of that paragraph on hold....

Meanwhile the "new blood" is not sure of its role; asking for where the next session will take place; asking what does a contact group means and how it compares to informal consultations; unaware of the impact of the most recent brackets now shown in the text... "We finished, the text is ready!" without realising that now there are only one bracket at the beginning and another one at the end of the whole document. No more negotiation on this text until further notice. "The friends of the chair" will discuss it in a closed session (the secrecy) where irreconcilable differences are polished by a few delegates of a few counties and where common points are finally found. Most of the time, at the exchange of support and financing (and capacity building, and technology transfer, and, and, and)

The COP whole process is slow, feels archaic, weights too much.

The high expectations for Copenhagen now vanish. Internal politics play its toll. Some sessions are suspended given the lack of consensus.
Tuvalu argues that the Protocol provisions allow for Parties to propose amendments. One, two, four, ten... more than twenty countries back his intervention. Silence. No one replies but the Chair. Tuvalu asks her to go for a vote on the issue given the lack of consensus. If 3/4 of the Parties vote for, the amendments have to be incorporated into the Kyoto Protocol. The session is suspended until further notice.

Meanwhile, the youngsters prepare and give speeches where "coffins", "death" (and almost terror) are common to all of them. Some delegates applaud. Most are still thinking of what is happening and what they will tell back to the head of his/her delegation.

Attending a COP as a member of a delegation is not an easy task. I could be labeled as one of those mentioned by Przemek's waiter: "getting rich and using the money to travel around the world".

As matter of fact, life of a negotiator is not easy, seldom rewarded, and quite different compared to that lived by all the young people inundating the COPs. We are the evil incarnated in a tie and dark suit. You put your interests ahead over those of the World. Quite difficult to differentiate when is one or the other. Many times common sense does not attend the COPs.

And now, my country worries on what the expectations will be for COP-16.
"The remembrance of the future" says the oldest in our delegation. His has seen it all, again, and again, and again.

The other side of the coin plays its game... confident that we are working for the good of mankind... without realising that we are almost a decade late.

Juan C. Arredondo

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