Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 4 of COP17

So, besides the educational side events, COP session days are filled with meetings of contact groups and informal consultations of the Convention and Protocol Bodies.  Each day, delegates and observers can check the Daily Program (hard copy) or online to find out what is happening, where, and who is permitted to attend.

During the day 2 and 3, observers attended a number of such sessions and reports were given at today's morning RINGOs meeting: 

- Some groups rejected text that was developed over the past year or at the interim meeting in Panama City; thus, some countries are currently working on new text to bring forward. I know that this sounds vague, but without any text to review, I can't tell you all what the issues are!

- As for mitigation (largely reducing GHG emissions), the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is being discussed in terms of should it be a 5 year or an 8 year period.

- In the technology session, it was reported that there was strong support for research, including from academic institutions, there were several calls for the need for more regional data and downscale models (more refined in terms of resolution), and requests for capacity building at universities within developing countries.

- Under adaptation, there is talk of how the Nairobi Work Program which has been in existence for several years will link to the UNFCCC adaptation program and much discussion of funding for adaptation.  The SBI is beginning to discuss loss and damage (risk assessment, risk transfer and sharing), and what the actual role of the Convention is in this.  Should risk and coverage of loss and damage instead be in the private sector. The LCA Adaptation is trying to determine the composition of its committee.  For example, should there be dedicated representation for groups that are in urgent need of adaptation such as the small island nations?  Should there be non-party representatives who are experts?

- Text is being developed for National Adaptation Planning.  Given that I set on one of the Adaptation Working Groups for Pennsylvania (natural resources), I can't even begin to imagine how this task can be accomplished on a national basis, especially for very large countries.

- Carbon capture and geological storage is being discussed under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in terms of the state of the technology, how this can be monitored, and what risks would be associated with carbon capture and storage.  Parties expressed a number of concerns that illustrated that there is difficulty in getting the current research data to be understood by the Parties.  (Think Congress trying to debate issues that are highly scientific when very, very few have any scientific training.)

- Under REDD, there are concerns that have been raised in terms of how this will be in conflict with the new Forestry Code of Brazil and some indigenous groups have spoken out against REDD through reports and official statements.

There are many other issues being discussed.  For example, today CMP has 4 contact groups meeting.  SBSTA has 7 informal consultations and 1 contact group meeting.  SBI has 8 informal consultations.  SBSTA/SBI has a joint contact group and joint forum.  AWG-KP has a spin-off group meeting and AWG-LCA has a contact group and 4 informal group meetings.  Unfortunately, many of these sessions are now being closed to civil society observers.  There are also a series of observer organization meetings and press and NGO briefings.

Are you confused yet?!  There are so many acronyms used in the UNFCCC process (there is a glossary online).  And I have been coming to COP meetings for three years now and still don't have it all figured out!  It is always a good idea to have different members of a delegation follow a specific theme during the time here to become a mini-expert on one or two topics rather than to try to "do it all".  Unfortunately, Moravian College's delegation consists of two of us this year, so I am trying to get a general sense of as much as possible and share it with folks back in the States. 

Off to another session!

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