Fanfare and backrooms

As the available hours for negotiations wind down, we have entered the usual phase at such negotiations of high-level speeches extolling negotiators to finish the work and deliver on our obligations to future generations while the negotiators themselves seem no closer to the finish line than they were days ago.

Two work streams have been negotiating the draft ADP decision text tabled by the co-chairs on Monday. Working through the text has been a long process of accepting suggestions and comments on every section, without resolving which ones will make it to the final text. Last night both work streams met till after midnight. And today, the announced “final Plenary on ADP” has been postponed from 3 pm today until tomorrow. I am sitting cross legged on the floor, next to the Coke machine and garbage bin in order to have a seat once the observers are allowed into the negotiations. Those have been delayed from 3 pm till 4:30. Somewhere else the G77 and China are huddling to consider how we get to the finish line, as no doubt are the delegations from the US and Japan and EU.


This morning’s plenary was a cornucopia of world climate leaders – from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to IPCC Chair Pachauri to Mary Robinson, Christiana Figueres and Al Gore. The speeches called on negotiators and governments to rise to the challenge. The science is clear and there is no option for failure in Lima. Except that there is. There is precious little time in this COP to come to an agreement on a text that will give Paris a hope of success.

The Co-chair reconvened the ADP working group with statement “it is now 4:55 pm on Thursday, December 11th and we are now closer than we were when we began.” Logistically, this is the worst room yet. The fan system operates at a loud roar. And there are a lot of helicopters about due to the presence of US Secretary of State John Kerry and other high powered attendees. They couldn’t have found a space less conducive to good negotiations. Maybe the CIA designed this room to crack the will to live of those within it.

We met for a little over a half an hour. Bolivia for the G77 and China proposed the working group should shift to an open-ended friends of the chair, working from the text that the G77 and China has been working on, streamlining the current 58 pages of alternative proposals. We went round in circles on that for awhile. Predictably industrialized countries didn’t like the idea; developing countries said we had to start somewhere. And those countries most at risk of drowning (the Marshall Islands and Nauru) saying we had better get started somehow. Ready to start in at either end or at the middle. But let’s get going.

Then the Co-chair announced that all negotiators were needed back in plenary for stock taking. So up and out of the dreadful room and back to plenary, which 45 minutes later has not yet started. I pretty much know what will be reported so will close this blog for now to share what news there is. I will likely have another blog to cover what happens from now till dawn. Keep a good thought. God knows, I am trying to.

P.S. The stock-taking plenary did not follow the predictable UN negotiation route. Negotiators were not sent back to slog through text through the night (as has been the case in every COP I can remember!) Instead, Peru’s Environment Minister, President of the COP, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said we “can not risk leaving Lima with empty hands.” He asked the co-chairs for ADP to work with him and develop a text taking into account everyone’s concerns and do it by 9 pm tonight. Tomorrow at 9 AM we will resume in plenary with the goal of having a firm foundation for Paris by 6 PM tomorrow night.

Let’s hope this bold move of letting negotiators get their sleep will work in delivering a successful outcome!