In which I get a pink badge!

On Monday, November 18th, 2013 in Blogs

I started out early, memories of the appalling arrangements in Copenhagen left me not wanting to take any chances in a cold city. In Copenhagen at COP15, we had to line up and wait outside for hours (day after day) in the bitter cold. Just to be on the safe side, I got to the huge stadium in Warsaw, converted to a convention centre for COP19, at 7 am and only had to wait outside for a half an hour before security guards decided we should be allowed to wait inside where it was warm.

Afghan BadgeThe accreditation from the global Greens, granting me limited access as an observer, was waiting for me, but, as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I was hoping to move to a pink badge, identifying me as a member of a government delegation. Of course, all the other Green Parliamentarians here are part of their own government’s delegation – whether they are in opposition or in power.

As previously arranged through email messages, I met with the Deputy Minister of the National Environmental Agency of Afghanistan and head of his country’s delegation, Ghulam Mohd Malikyar. He took me back to registration to request I be listed as a member of his delegation. With only three representatives of the Afghanistan government and one volunteer member of his delegation, Australian academic Dr. Ian McGregor, who has been working with the Afghanistan delegation in climate meetings for several years, my inclusion increased the delegation size by 25%.

I am volunteering to assist a country that has had such a difficult experience through war and conflict. In UN terms, Afghanistan is described as “post-conflict.” In the climate negotiations, Afghanistan works within two country groups – the G77 and China (that’s one group, chaired in this session by Fiji), and the LDCs (least developed countries, chaired in this session by Nepal). These are groups pressing for more climate action and sooner. As an advisor to the Afghanistan delegation, I assist in policy advice, as well as helping them by taking notes in sessions where the small delegation could not stretch to participate.

Ian McGregor, an Australian, and I, a Canadian, decided we had become a new variety of “environmental refugee.” Our own national governments are so dreadful that we are better able to be productive as “refugees” – taken in by another national government.

Today, I also pinned on one of the small red fabric circles worn by delegates to identify as fasting in solidarity with the head of the Philippines delegation.
In substantive terms, today’s discussions centred on a draft text circulated by the co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. (Which for some UN acronym-laden reason is referred to as “ADP”.) The co-chairs worked long hours through the weekend to developed a proposed text to form the decision coming out of Warsaw. The next COP will be in Peru, so the Peruvian delegation is particularly concerned that real progress on a text be made in Warsaw. As one (not Peru) delegate commented, the real agreement will be reached in Lima in 2014 and not Paris in 2015, when, with luck, the tough work will have been done well before.

The co-chairs text was not what any of the groups wanted. The rich industrialized laggard club (called the Umbrella Group and including Canada, the US, Japan, Australia, NZ, Russia and Norway – although Norway has great domestic plans, and is on track to go to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020) didn’t like it much, but neither did the G77 and China or the LDCs. The best that can be said is that it is a start to allow serious negotiations to have a text going forward to 2014. You can find all the texts from the COP on the UNFCCC website.

Apparently Minister Aglukkaq arrived today, but I didn’t see her in the conference hall. She will be speaking in the high level segment on Wednesday. She will have some cover as Australia is snatching up the fossil awards this week. The official opening of the high level is tomorrow.

As for me, between jet lag and fasting, and trying to concentrate and do my work, it’s been a long day.

More tomorrow…

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