COP16: Conclusions from Young Trackers

Young “trackers” from the Adopt a Negotiator Project blogged throughout the United Nations Climate Change Conference; these are some of their concluding statements and thoughts on what happened at COP16 in Cancún, Mexico. (Read the first Global Voices article on this tracking team here)

COP16 Negotiator Trackers working at COP16 / Picture: Andrea Arzaba

COP16 Negotiator Trackers from Canada, India, South Africa, Australia and Brazil working at COP16 / Picture: Andrea Arzaba

Anna Collins, the United Kingdom tracker, wrote on her latest blog post about the doubts that came to her during the last moments of COP16:

Coming away from Cop16 I seem to have more questions than answers.

Should we be happy with the progress made at Cop16?
Why do I not feel behind Bolivia, our seemingly champions in this process?
Did the chair violate the rules of consensus?
What are the rules of consensus?
If this did happen is it for better or the worse?
Because if one country is able to block an agreement does this effectively give the Saudis or the US the same powers?
If this is true is there any hope for this process?
What does this really all mean for the climate, for our beautiful world and a better future?

As we leave one Cop behind and hurtle towards another. As governments, media and civil society alike around the world praise the success of Cancun. As it already fades into a distant memory, I sit and I ponder my questions.

Questions I cannot yet answer.

The final moments at COP16 were marked by a key country: Bolivia. Italian negotiations tracker, Andrea Cinquina, wrote about it [it]:

Il COP e COP/MOP ha visto una lunga battaglia andare avanti tra la Bolivia e la presidenza, con la Bolivia reclamando per il fatto che la presidenza ha dichiarato la decisione presa. Secondo il paese sud americano non può esserci una decisione in quanto non c’è il consenso, strumento fondamentale nelle Nazione Unite. La Espinosa taglia corto dicendo che uno solo non può porre il proprio veto se c’è il consenso di altri 193 paesi.

The COP and COP/MOP have seen a long struggle unfolding between Bolivia and the presidency, with Bolivia complaining because the presidency confirmed the previous decision. According to the South American country, such a decision requires instead a general consensus, a fundamental tool in the United Nations procedures. Espinosa cuts short saying that just one country cannot impose its own veto if the other 193 countries agree on that decision

Indian tracker Leela Raina, posted her latest article on India's final position at the climate negotiations:

With the conference closing today, India has constructively given face to the solution at Cancun. It has bridged differences between the various heterogeneous groups within the G77 and China negotiating group by standing up for the more vulnerable countries. In its press conference earlier this week in behalf of the BASIC group of countries comprising of Brazil, India, China and South Africa it categorically identified three nonnegotiables: The first one was for keeping the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol since it is currently important to concentrate on the protocol, which is the only legally binding treaty on climate change. Its future is uncertain since several countries want to abandon it.

Alex Stark, tracking the United States delegation, posted on the unusual North American position at the last moments of the negotiations:

Maybe the negotiators are just overtired, or the plenary hall was overcrowded, but at the informal plenary meeting that just wrapped up, the entire room was given over to giddy enthusiasm.  Aside from interventions from the usual crowd (Bolivia, Cuba, etc.) that cautioned that there is still work to be done on the draft text, every other country offered a rousing endorsement of the text and commendations for the Mexican presidency’s efforts to lead a transparent and open negotiating process.  Every single intervention was followed by an intense round of applause.  Even Todd Stern, usually a levelheaded speaker, declared “let’s get this deal done.”  Although there are several meetings still to go this evening, we are now feeling more than ever that country parties will be able to reach a consensus on a balanced package outcome.

It’s hard to explain how exciting it felt to be in that room.  We may not be making the deal here that saves the planet, but in the world of UN climate negotiations, near-unanimous agreement between developing and developed countries, applause and even spontaneous cheering are really quite unprecedented.  For the first time since the Copenhagen conference one year ago, I’m genuinely confident that this process can prove to the world that it can be successful.

Adopt a Negotiator Press Conference at COP16 with Canadian and Mexican Trackers (Joanna Dafoe and Andrea Arzaba) with Joshua Wiese, Project Manager /Picture: Andrea Arzaba

Press Conference for the UN Foundation at COP16 with Canadian and Mexican Trackers, in the middle Joshua Wiese, Adopt a Negotiator Project Manager /Picture: Andrea Arzaba

Finally, Andrea Arzaba, Mexican tracker and Global Voices Online blogger, finished her latest post from the UNFCCC event hoping that the words declared by Mexican negotiators will become a reality:

De verdad espero que lo prometido por los representantes de México pueda cumplirse, y estaré siguiéndoles la pista a estos negociadores y figuras clave que se han mostrado excepcionales en su trabajo durante las últimas dos semanas. Porque ahora si, después de las pláticas llega el verdadero trabajo.

I really hope what Mexican negotiators promised will become a reality, and I’ll be following what these negotiators and key players do, who have shown exceptional work during the past two weeks. Because it is now, after the talks, when work needs to get done!


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