Tag: NGO Participation
Civil society has been left with little choice but to spend the last three days camping out in the basement of the conference centre. Despite the strong objections of the G77+China and Mexico—that’s 135 Parties out of a possible 195—the co-chairs have still barred observers from the negotiations. Rumours abound when all that can be done is wait for scraps of news, often delivered third- or fourth-hand.
The decision to exclude observers is troubling for three reasons. First, the co-chair’s justification rewrites history. They stated that this is the process we agreed to in Doha. Some Parties repeated this due process argument. In reality, the SBI in Doha did not consider the participation of observers. The only relevant decision of the SBI actually encourages public participation; it recommends, at a minimum, that where no contact group exists, observers attend the first and last meetings during informals. It provides a floor for observer participation, not a ceiling.
Second, excluding civil society runs counter to the international principles and norms surrounding public participation. The Convention itself provides that Parties: “shall … encourage the widest participation in this process, including that of non-governmental organisations.” The negotiations leading to the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol, a supplement to the UNFCCC’s sister convention, the CBD, involved stakeholders through the entire process.
Third, the decision ignores the vital role that civil society and indigenous peoples play in the negotiations. Contrary to Japan’s argument, the absence of stakeholders is what truly impedes effective negotiations, not their presence. We provide technical support, thought leadership, bridging solutions, and amplify the voices of the people who are most vulnerable to but least responsible for the climate crisis.
We have deep appreciation for the Parties that continue to advocate to #keepusintheroom
The EU seems to be resorting to silence worryingly often, ECO wonders if this is a new negotiations tactic.
ECO first noticed this practice on Tuesday, when the EU failed to offer support to the G77+China group’s call for observers to be allowed in the spin-off groups.
Later in the week, the EU again fell silent over the Umbrella Group’s proposal to remove loss and damage as a standalone article in the agreement, which would leave already vulnerable countries even more vulnerable.
In Latin, there’s a saying: “Qui tacet consentit.” And for those not fluent, that’s: “silence gives consent“. But it’s not too late to find your voice, EU! Clearly state your support for loss and damage and engage with Option 1. And say loudly and clearly, for all to hear, that observers should be allowed into the negotiations.
And remember, when you vocally stand up for what’s right, ECO won’t be silent in our praise.
Observers are savouring more than just the chocolate muffins since their exclusion from negotiations. ECO’s inbox has overflowed with updates and inside scoops, suggesting they can learn more about the negotiations by not being in the room. More positively still, these reveal some remarkable breakthroughs that have occurred since they were banished.
Firstly, the US has performed an impressive backflip and both endorsed Loss and Damage as a stand alone section and committed an annual 0.7% of GDP to financing it. As one US negotiator explained, “This backflip is in our national interest. We are deeply concerned about our projected gymnastics medal count at the 2016 Olympics and really need to practice”.
A breakthrough on human rights was also achieved. Apparently, after tasting the “Mango Heaven” smoothie (following ECO’s recommendation), negotiators from Saudi Arabia came to a newfound appreciation of human rights and are now supporting their comprehensive integration throughout the document.
Furthermore, Australia has convinced the Umbrella Group to accept major compromises on both mitigation and the long-term goal. This follows a bilateral with Marty McFly, who arrived yesterday from 1985, shocked to see that a comprehensive agreement to limit global warming had still not been signed. Strong language on decarbonisation and ratcheting up unconditional INDCs are now to be included. Sightings of delegates from Australia and New Zealand joyriding in the DeLorean confirm ECO’s suspicions of how this occurred.
Finally, and less positively, security has informed ECO that access to the first floor restrooms is now exclusively restricted to the Japanese delegation. Others can only use those restrooms by utilising guest passes, which Japan has reportedly distributed to EU and Umbrella Group delegations only. This aside, with plenty of press conferences to come, civil society organisations are looking forward to sharing the great progress being made with the rest of the world. ECO will toast to these recent developments as they are included in the final text. They provide clear evidence that excluding observers both helps them bring greater transparency and accountability to negotiations and Parties to be more productive. Now that’s a “co-benefit” if ECO ever saw one.
Everyone knows that real climate negotiations cannot take place in public. ECO is therefore pleased to have spent Tuesday occupying the cafeteria seats instead of delaying the rapid progress being made in the spinoff groups. At last check, we were on track to warm the seats by 3°C, enough to ensure negotiators could later sit comfortably while celebrating their work with beer and pretzels.
Monday’s negotiations progressed at a snail’s pace as unruly observers interrupted the positive flow between the Co-Chairs and Parties. Thankfully, the unanimous frustration with observers was remedied today with a single objection in the plenary. The applause and high-fiving among developed countries following Japan’s statement signalled that they spoke for us all. Similarly righteous, but under-appreciated, the Secretariat deserves similar praise for doing what the Co-Chairs could not—they took away meeting space that civil society had reserved. One can only hope that the hotels of Bonn follow this lead.
ECO would like to remind Parties of the continual stalling role played by observers. They are notorious filibusters, unwilling to compromise, vociferously opposed to long-term commitments, and they try to undermine the principles of the Convention more frequently than wi-fi in the plenary hall cuts out. After trying the “Mango Heaven” smoothie in the cafeteria for the umpteenth time, ECO suspects the observers may have developed secret plans to profit from tropical agriculture in Antarctica.
Civil society organisations and the peoples they represent are looking forward to continued exclusion from the negotiations. ECO expects this session will wrap up a day early thanks to the accelerated process being made in their absence.
In 2012, the COP decided to establish a structured expert dialogue (SED) with the aim to support the work of a Joint Contact Group of SBSTA and SBI and to ensure the scientific integrity of a review in 2013-2015 on the adequacy of the long-term global goal in light of the ultimate objective of the Convention. Through a focused exchange of views, information and ideas SBSTA and SBI should give recommendations in relation to party commitments. The message of the SED could not be clearer: ‘Climate change is here and it is a matter of survival’.
The SED has shown to be an appropriate vehicle for open and substantive discussions between Parties on the scientific knowledge and evidence based climate policy formulation. It considered scientific information, especially the latest IPCC Report (Fifth Assessment Report), relevant to the review through regular scientific workshops and expert meetings and assisted in the preparation and consideration of synthesis reports on the review.
The aim of this paper is twofold: To get greater recognition of the significance of the 1.5°C goal from all stakeholders and to make recommendations on how to translate the findings of the SED into concrete outcomes, in the context of the UNFCCC negotiations. The Report on the structured expert dialogue on the 2013-2015 review will be the main basis for CANs analysis.