COP 16: Young Bloggers Track Negotiations

UNFCCC COP16 Sign. Image by Flickr user, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license

The first week at the COP 16 (United Nations Climate Change Conference) was inspiring for some and disappointing for others. Negotiations were made, draft proposals were discussed and several decisions were questioned between different international actors such as Canada, The United States, China and Australia, among many others. Young bloggers from around the world have been actively participating in communicating the developments at the conference from their country's perspective.

Adopt a Negotiator, part of the TckTckTck campaign focusing on climate change, is an initiative where several young people from different parts of the world become “trackers.” Their role is to be interpreters and communicators of what their national delegations say and do at the UNFCCC conferences on Climate Change. In their own words:

As young people who will live with the decisions that are being made at the UN for the rest of our lives the fact these negotiations were going on with very little scrutiny or public participation did not seem right. For years negotiations about our future have been happening in a bubble. We thought it was time to burst it!

One of the reasons engagement in the UN process is so hard is because it is complex, dry, and full of language that no one outside the system can understand.

That’s where we come in…

By going to the UN and trying to translate this process into real life situations, we hope to make it open and understandable to many more.

Tracker Laura Tyrer from South Africa gave a perspective on her national delegation:

Internationally, a great deal of pressure is being placed on our country to lead the way towards a legally binding global climate deal. South Africa is considered to be a bridge builder between developing and developed countries and a source of clever ideas in the negotiating process. Add to this the fact that South Africa will be hosting the next COP and you get a large burden of responsibility placed squarely on the shoulders of our negotiating team.

However, they haven’t been particularly visible in the corridors, lunch areas or halls either.

Thus far, I’ve been warmly welcomed into the fold of the Malawian delegates, and chatted extensively with the Zambian delegates. The delegates from our neighbouring countries are extremely enthusiastic about the Adopt a negotiator project, going so far as to ask if could please track them. So where are the South Africans?

Canada's position is well represented in Joanna Dafoe's tracking blog:

In our stakeholder meeting today with our lead negotiator, we discussed the round-about ways in which Canada will abandon the Kyoto Protocol.  Ultimately due to the fact that the KP commitments do not align with Federal priorities, Canada has answered (in every way but obvious) that we do not want a second commitment for the Kyoto Protocol.

But our lead negotiator emphasizes the urgent need for action.  Rising insurance costs related to climate change, developing markets that raise the price of carbon – these are all quoted as reasons for Canada to act.

French tracker Thomas Matagne gave his own take [fr] on France's progress during the first week of COP 16 :

Les bruits de couloirs sur la situation générale ces derniers jours était plutôt négatifs. Les questions de la structure légale et du niveau de réduction des émissions sont très difficiles ; mais cela était attendu. En revanche, des difficultés plus importantes qu’anticipées se sont révélées sur quelques chapitres, sur le financement et sur le Protocole de Kyoto notamment. Sur ce dernier point, Brice Lalonde, Ambassadeur pour le climat, s’est dit préoccupé, ne voyant pas d’issue de sortie.

The rumors in the hallways were rather pessimistic. The issues of legal structure and level of emission reductions are very difficult, but that was expected. However, unexpected difficulties were found on a few topics, namely on financing and on the Kyoto Protocol. On this last point, Brice Lalonde, Ambassador on Climate Issues, expressed concern, since he saw no way out of the deadlock.

Finally, Mexico's tracker and Global Voices author Andrea Arzaba gave a general perspective [es] on the first week at COP 16 :

La actitud de compromiso se tiene por parte de los diferentes negociadores, los activistas siguen ejerciendo presión y el público en general, todos estamos esperando a las negociaciones que ocurran a partir de la próxima semana … al fin y al cabo es el futuro del planeta con lo que se esta jugando.

The attitude of commitment is part of the various negotiators, activists continue to exert pressure and the general public, we are all waiting for negotiations to occur starting next week … after all it is the future of the planet that is at stake.

Readers can follow trackers from Australia, Canada, India, USA, China, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, France and England during the final week of the UN Climate Change Conference.


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