Good Sunday Morning – December 15

Good Sunday Morning!

My Sunday morning started many hours ago.  As the clock ticked past midnight in Madrid (3 pm at home in BC), negotiations were still underway, as they continued throughout the night and early morning hours. It is now afternoon Sunday in Madrid.

It is quite typical for climate negotiations to over-run their allotted time. Conferences of the Parties are always supposed to end by Friday evening of week 2. They almost never do. Up until this COP, the longest and latest COP had been in Durban, when negotiations wrapped at 6:30 AM on the Sunday morning.

We smashed the record.  Not something we wanted to do!

COP25 has finally drawn to its long, protracted and uninspired wrap up.  For much of this COP, participants felt that we were in a state of suspended animation.  The key negotiations took place behind closed doors. Ministers negotiated directly with each other in smaller groups and even one on one.  The typical rooms full of negotiators, ministers and even heads of government arguing over every line – and sometimes even on punctuation marks – was replaced in this meeting with behind closed door negotiations.  If you want to dig deep into my daily reports from COP25, check out this link to Policy magazine. They asked me to produce a dispatch a day:

Negotiators from countries pushing for urgent climate action came out from behind closed doors for a Friday press conference.  The High Ambition Coalition is a large group of countries – the European Union, Costa Rica, low-lying island states, Norway, New Zealand, Mexico, among others. The goal is to push for tougher targets within the Paris Agreement.

Canada is a member, but not present at the press conference led by the Marshall Islands.  Even the High Ambition Coalition can be accused of failing to walk the talk, as happened at the presser when one reporter zoomed in on Norway’s Minister of Climate and the Environment, Ola Evestuen.  Seeking a carbon neutral world, the reporter wanted to know how Norway justifies its oil industry.

This is what he said: “We have to prepare – we have to cut our own emissions as fast as we can.  We have to stop all use of fossil fuels….. We have to do this – all countries. And Norway will take its responsibility on this.”

It struck me how stunning it would be to hear any Canadian minister speak so clearly. Yes, Norway is still oil dependent. Oil represents more than one third of Norwegian exports and 12% of its GDP, far more than Canada.  Yet, Norway has also committed its sovereign wealth fund to renewables, while spurning fossil fuel companies and projects. Its state-owned oil company has pulled out of the oil sands.

Norway is still operating with areas of deep contradiction as underscored in a report from Saanich-Gulf Islands resident – David Boyd who serves as UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment. His report, described in The Guardian as “a stinging rebuke of the Norwegian government’s oil expansion” can be found here (Norway must resolve climate change and human rights paradox, UN expert says).

But Canada’s so-called leaders continue to perpetuate the nonsense that we can save ourselves in a climate emergency while adding more GHG to the atmosphere.

So did COP25 achieve anything?  It is a sort of glass half full-half empty problem.  The good news, it wasn’t glass smashed on the floor. That was Copenhagen.  We are on track, with good language in the COP25 decision to ask for the highest possible ambition in new targets to be tabled in 2020, preferably in the spring. And we did not end up with the very controversial Article 6 having rules that would have damaged the whole Paris effort to hold global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees. There was no decision at all on Article 6. It gets punted to next year.

I am so tired now, after being in this facility for the last 29 hours, I know I need time to study the final decisions. The final decisions are better than what might have been.  But the US, Brazil, and Australia have been outrageous, and avoiding damage while moving to next year’s mandatory new targets is a better result than I feared.

I am attaching a notice of very cool local climate initiative.  Please have a look and get involved!

Have a great day- Til next week!


This weekly blog is published by Elizabeth’s EDA in Saanich-Gulf Islands. You can sign up for it here