Tuesday, 7 December 2010

First day of last week

I guess everyone is too busy negotiating, researching, reporting or enjoying the beach to blog so since I leave Cancun today I will provide a parting commentary!

Yesterday morning I attended a briefing by UNFCCC director Christiana Figueres who summarized the state of play as slow progress with a couple of major roadblocks. As in Copenhagen there are the two tracks of negotiations - the Kyoto track seeking to establish a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol with binding commitments and the LCA convention track which is basically creating a parallel agreement which would include some form of promise of emissions reductions that would include the US and other major emitters such as China. At the moment the KP track is in trouble because Japan, Australia and Russia have said they will not make binding commitments for a second period. The LCA track has made a fair bit of progress and has a draft text that includes a forest deal, adaptation, 2 degree target etc but this is stuck because many G77 countries want to see KP continue and may not support the parallel track unless there is some sort of link to KP. Other issues to try and resolve this week are whether the target should be 1.5 or 2 degrees, whether the adaptation funds should be used only for the adverse effects of climate change or for compensating for the effects of climate policy (e.g. for losses of income from fossil fuel exports - called response measures), who is eligible for adaptation funds, and how to record mitigation efforts and promises within the LCA text. The Mexican government has made establishing a 'green fund' that will provide finance for mitigation and adaptation after the fast track finance ends in 2012. Many other details to be resolved.

Yesterday I was over at the main negotiating site (from today access by NGOs is limited) and talked to several friends who are on delegations and went to a briefing with Mexican president Calderon. I would say that the atmosphere seems more relaxed than the chaos of Copenhagen and people do say the negotiations are more cordial. The conference site is large with lots of tropical plants and with iguanas and coatimundi (a rust colored raccoon like creature) wandering around. Apparently during a ministerial dinner on the beach the Mexican COP president Patricia Espinosa had ministers help a bunch of newly born sea turtles into the ocean.

People told me the Mexicans have done a very good job in terms of keeping things as transparent as possible and rebuilding trust between negotiators. That said, we are still a long way from any decisions that will prevent dangerous climate change and the KP/LCA bottleneck is really hard to resolve.

I have seen lots of friends and ECI alums. A dinner on Friday night saw ECI alums and friends in multiple roles (delegates from Japan, Grenada, PR Congo, NGO reps from CI and WWF, researchers) and the NGO party on Saturday night was insane with people dancing like maniacs over the lagoon.

Over the weekend I attended Agriculture and Rural Development Day where we launched an exciting new program of collaboration between the international agricultural research centers of the CGIAR and the international global change research community. The initial seeds for this program originated with Oxford based GECAFS and will now see millions of dollars each year for adapting global agriculture and food to climate change. I also went to IIED's climate and development day (to sessions on adaptation). Monday I was at events on business and climate change, on the role of US states in emission reductions (which is significant, especially California), but missed the very successful ECI side event on forests and REDD.

I have also been meeting with lots of people to plan for the second international conference on climate adaptation which we will host in Arizona in early June 2012 and am heading home with an outstanding set of names for the international planning committee and some exciting promises of cosponsorship from international development organizations.

In summary, I think Cancun will make some modest steps towards adaptation, REDD and (voluntary) mitigation and has gone some way towards rebuilding trust. I have come away with lots of new research ideas and contacts. For me the most significant change is that the major international development institutions have really taken on climate change in a very serious way now. Even if countries do not act the momentum in the development community is now really mainstreaming climate into lending, projects, and long term planning.

Diana Liverman

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