COP21 Day 8 – Negotiations move behind closed doors

Monday December 7 was the official opening of the high-level segment. In the normal rhythm of the COPs, this would have been a big day with ministers of environment from around the world, and the occasional head of government making statements. But, as mentioned in other blogs, this time, with over 150 leaders having spoken a week ago, it felt a little anti-climactic. Still, the call to action from COP President Laurent Fabius and very touching words from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon were motivating.

The negotiations were all in small groups behind closed doors today. It seems more will be visible tomorrow. Canadian Minister Catherine McKenna has been asked to co-facilitate (with a minister from Mexico) a cross cutting group called “Cooperative approaches and mechanisms.” That is code for carbon trading, carbon markets and their possible inclusion in the convention. They saved the most controversial and sensitive topics for the seven cross-cutting groups. As the minister headed out fast from an abbreviated del briefing, we wished her luck. “Send Red Bull,” she called out over her shoulder.

With negotiations out of view, there was time to attend some discussions of what are called “sub-national” action – work by provinces, states and cities. California Governor Jerry Brown joked that he didn’t like the term “sub-national” and argued their work should be described as “super-national.” In any case, the work is impressive in California and Washington and Oakland, California, paired with news from Vancouver and BC.

Tomorrow we should be back to more accessible negotiations and news of how the president of COP believes things are shaping up. Some are actually beginning to believe we will have a treaty by Friday. I veer between optimism and realism. As ever, I like optimism better.