Where the action is

Although side events are fascinating and informative, the real action at COP takes place in contact groups and the official SBSTA (subsidiary body for scientific and technological advice), SBI, and AWG meetings. Some of these, unfortunately, are arbitrarily closed to non-party members (which our group, as part of an NGO, is) although they are supposed to be open meetings. During the past few days, we have been refused entrance into a few meetings but many of us were able to attend SBSTA and contact group meetings yesterday. I feel like being at these meetings has allowed me to truly understand the COP negotiation process, the politics and side room discussions that must have taken place before the meeting, and how countries leverage their position to influence other countries. At the SBSTA meeting, countries were considering adoption of the 4th IPCC report among other issues. Some of the draft conclusions implied a strong sense of urgency. Some countries, including India and China, expressed concern with adopting the draft conclusions of the report because it is my understanding that if these countries adopt a document with such language, it may imply that they concede that all countries (including developing) should take on binding emissions targets in the near future. India and China’s resistance to adopt the report angered several other countries that felt that if the Nobel Peace Prize committee felt the report was valid and worthy of recognition, the SBSTA should follow suit and acknowledge the significant effort made by the IPCC’s scientists and use the report to guide their advice. Later, while discussing the issue of increasing the size of potential afforestation and reforestation CDM projects, China was sure to comment that approval of this point was a conciliatory measure given CDM forestry projects were initially approved only as a compromise. They indicated that they wished other countries would adopt a similar “flexible and compromising” attitude. The comment prompted some chuckles from the back of the room. Watching the countries negotiate and diplomatically criticize each other was fascinating for me – I am glad that I am here in Bali to watch the proceedings unfold in real time. I am anxious to see what the outcome of the high-level segment negotiations are as COP13 comes to an end.