News on the ground: everything is up in the air

The CYD home base in the Azteca building.

Amara Possian

This morning, CYD took down our booth in Cancunmesse and set up a strategic home base under an escalator near a power outlet in Moon Palace, where the negotiations are taking place. We’re in constant communication with the other half of the delegation at the hostel and our home team back in Canada and it looks like today is going to involve lots of sneaky info tracking. [If you have tips, you can find me under this escalator or send me an email at].

It’s crunch time, the COP plenary started a few hours late then decided to reconvene at 3pm, and almost every meeting on the Daily Programme has “to be announced” beside the time, and in some cases, beside the location. Negotiations ran until 6am last night and while there are several new negotiating texts – on the Kyoto Protocol, on Long-Term Cooperative Action, on LULUCF – they are not yet public. Several countries created a compromise text last night which just went out to negotiators (not us!) so the United States just canceled its press conference. The UNFCCC secretariat just canceled its press conference. And Ecuador is up in arms because a small group of states is meeting behind closed doors.

Here are a few things we are currently paying particular attention to:

Japan and the Kyoto Protocol Japan and Russia are currently blocking a second commitment period on the Kyoto Protocol and Canada is hiding behind them. There’s a good sense that if we move Japan away from obstructing Kyoto, Russia and Canada may follow suit because Russia doesn’t want to obstruct Kyoto alone and Canada is worried about NAFTA and relations with Mexico. Last night, Ban Ki-moon called the Japanese Prime Minister to ask him to support Kyoto. We’ve also put out a call to action for Canadians to call the Japanese embassy and the Canadian government to continue the pressure.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Last night, the Minister of Ecuador said countries were close to a definitive agreement and ministers were given options for safeguards and financing. This morning, there has been talk of increased REDD financing and we are interested to find out more about financing mechanisms, monitoring safeguards, and the inclusion of principles from the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into REDD.


Long-term global emissions reduction target: 1.5°C vs. 2°C The Copenhagen Accord, which some countries have been trying to push into the negotiating text, calls for limiting the rise in global temperatures to 2C. This week, small island states (with the support of 100+ countries) succeeded at getting a 1.5C goal back into the text and we’re waiting to see which target is included in the final text… haven’t heard anything yet.

So where does that leave us? The Long-term Cooperative Action and Kyoto Protocol texts both need to be passed in plenary, but when that plenary will begin is still very, very up in the air. We are still waiting to hear on Financing, Adaptation, LULUCF accounting rules, any progress on the AAU “hot air” surplus, and on the process to get a binding decision at COP17.

At the moment, several countries are blocking progress. We are hoping the United States will compromise on technology transfer – at 6am, after hours of negotiations and a clean text, the United States drew a red line and walked away on technology. We are hoping China, Brazil, and South Africa will take steps forward on measuring, reporting, and verifying. We are hoping Japan moves on Kyoto and Canada follows suit. And we’re hoping the shared vision text that comes out soon has strong, meaningful targets.

We will post an update when we get a copy of the current negotiating text.


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