Tough de­ci­sion time on cards for COP17

Key res­o­lu­tions ex­pected in rous­ing fi­nale

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JOHN YELD

THE FIRST act in this year’s per­for­mance of what’s been de­scribed as a “trav­el­ling cir­cus” – the an­nual meet­ing of the Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties to the UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change – comes to an in­for­mal close in Dur­ban to­day.

This is the end of the first week of ne­go­ti­a­tions by of­fi­cials and del­e­ga­tions from 194 na­tions.

Af­ter a brief respite to­mor­row – although not for many of the “stage­hands”, aka of­fi­cials and ne­go­ti­at­ing teams, who will still be por­ing over hundreds of pages of draft texts and doc­u­ments – the sec­ond and fi­nal five-day act starts in earnest on Mon­day.

This is when 10 heads of state, two princes and at least 130 min­is­ters be­gin ar­riv­ing for the high-level seg­ment of COP17 that opens at 3pm on Tues­day, end­ing some time on Fri­day night or even in the early hours of next Satur­day. They will be ex­pected to take key po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions, based on a num­ber of draft agree­ments or pro­pos­als that have been painstak­ingly forged and crafted by their ne­go­ti­at­ing teams.

The “ring­mas­ter”, or more for­mally the COP17 pres­i­dent, is South Africa’s In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Co- op­er­a­tion Min­is­ter, Maite NkoanaMasha­bane. She will have to crack her whip in earnest in an at­tempt to bring the show with its dis­parate and some­times illd­is­ci­plined troupes to what is hoped will be a rous­ing fi­nale.

There are a num­ber of agree­ments to be con­cluded this com­ing week, in­clud­ing three crit­i­cal de­ci­sions:

The fu­ture of the Ky­oto Pro­to­col and its sec­ond com­mit­ment pe­riod due to start in 2013, par­tic­u­larly af­ter threats by Rus­sia, Ja­pan and Canada not to sign up for this sec­ond pe­riod; Canada may with­draw com­pletely.

When to start, and con­clude, fu­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions for a new cli­mate agree­ment that will set bind­ing le­gal tar­gets for all na­tions, in­clud­ing the US which is not part of Ky­oto, and other big green­house gas emit­ters such as China, In­dia, Brazil and South Africa, which are “de­vel­op­ing” coun­tries un­der the pro­to­col and there­fore not legally bound to re­duce emis­sions.

Ap­prov­ing a draft man­age­ment plan to bring into full op­er­a­tion the Green Cli­mate Fund, which should reach $100 bil­lion a year by 2020 to as­sist fi­nan­cially de­vel­op­ing coun­tries mit­i­gate and adapt to cli­mate change.

Con­ven­tion ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary Chris­tiana Figueres told a me­dia brief­ing yes­ter­day that a “very rough, not per­fect” draft text for how to achieve a new com­pre­hen­sive cli­mate agree­ment had been com­pleted, and would be stud­ied by ne­go­ti­at­ing teams over the week­end be­fore the politi­cians’ ar­rival.

Also, “more very good work” had been done around the Ky­oto Pro­to­col, based on clar­i­fi­ca­tion about the “how” of a pro­posal for a sec­ond com­mit­ment pe­riod as pro­posed by the EU, Figueres said.

The head of South Africa’s del­e­ga­tion, Environment Min­is­ter Edna Molewa, said she was con­fi­dent that ne­go­ti­a­tions were on track.

“I as­sure you, what we hear com­ing out re­gard­ing what peo­ple are call­ing the po­ten­tial break­down of ne­go­ti­a­tions around the Green Cli­mate Fund, we are very, very, very far away from even think­ing about that break­down.”

Ear­lier, an up­beat Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, at the Lo­cal Govern­ment and Cities Con­ven­tion COP17 side event in Dur­ban, said talks at COP17 were “pro­ceed­ing well”.

Non- govern­ment groups and civil so­ci­ety gen­er­ally are not nearly as op­ti­mistic about next week’s out­comes as Zuma and Molewa, and have been call­ing for sus­tained pres­sure on po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion­mak­ers.

That pres­sure in­cludes the Global Day of Ac­tion to­day, when thou­sands of peo­ple from groups like civil so­ci­ety, or­gan­ised labour and faith- based or­gan­i­sa­tions, along with artists, mu­si­cians, peas­ant farm­ers from across the con­ti­nent and hundreds of women from ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties in South Africa, are plan­ning a peace­ful march through Dur­ban.


AL­TER­NA­TIVE VIEW: En­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists from the Sierra Club, the US’S old­est and largest en­vi­ron­men­tal club, show their dis­ap­proval of big cor­po­rates’ anti-en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies by stick­ing their heads into the sand dur­ing a COP17 protest in Dur­ban yes­ter­day. Some wear­ing masks, their heads dis­ap­peared into holes in the beach. They wore the flags of na­tions they ac­cused of fail­ing to ef­fec­tively ad­dress cli­mate change is­sues.

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