Some of the most productive events we attended were actually social events.

For instance, I made some great contacts at the NGO party hosted at Tuba Klub on Saturday December 6. Imagine all the non-profit organizations working on global warming and sustainable development – Greenpeace, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 350.org, Conservation International – all on one dance floor. Fascinating! Not only did I meet a student at Oxford studying climate change adaptation in the tourism sector, my exact paper topic for Professor Bailis’s class this fall, but I also bumped into a veritable climate celeb – the man himself, Executive Secretariat of the Conference of the Parties, Yvo de Boer! He was very approachable, and answered a few questions I posed. I told him I was a…

This statement, paraphrased to describe the 14th Conference of the Parties at Poznan by Margareta Wahlstrom, the newly appointed Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction was followed by an essential question: are we waiting with anticipation or are we waiting with foreboding?

Until as recently as 5 hours ago, I would have said the general sense was of foreboding. A sense of foreboding that originates from considering the issues that we are currently facing, such as the lack of political leverage at many levels, the prejudice and difficulty in communication across topics, sectors and regions, the lack of information regarding cost-benefit analysis, the limited resources and institutional capacity at the local sites and the unclear financial mechanisms –along with the problems already mentioned in previous comments within this blog. Additionally, we…

I heard this theme—that REDD is not just about carbon storage—in two strikingly different contexts over the last few days.

On Saturday, in the opening plenary of Forest Day 2, Sunita Narain, stated that one of the three main forestry issues in the negotiations is that forests are not just places of carbon storage, but habitats for communities. To preserve communities of indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities, a successful REDD deal must have equity as a prerequisite.

Yesterday, during the financing and investing session of Business Day, Peter Gardiner, Natural Resource Manager, Mondi UK, criticized some aspects of the REDD dialog. He stated that REDD should not just focus on deforestation: essentially, he too said REDD should not just be a about carbon storage. However—in…

The current political transition in the U.S. is affecting our national strategy here in Poznan. The current head negotiator, Harlan Watson, is still taking his cues from the Bush Administration, which makes the U.S. more irrelevant than ever. At a press conference yesterday, Watson said that his team has had no contact with the Obama administration. The short session with the U.S. delegation Monday revealed little of substance. All Harlan could say was that his team was trying to keep all options open for the incoming administration.

 

Far more revealing (sort of) was a briefing by a U.S. Congressional delegation given later in the day. This event had much better attendance on the assumption that the assembled staffers representing Rep. Dingell and Senators Kerry, Lugar, and Snowe…

My impression of the UNFCCC process, which is now almost 15 years old, was that much less gets accomplished than planned. I’m starting to realize that this is because the ones doing the negotiating are humans.

Attending the COP is a really draining experience. Meetings can start early in the morning and can last until late into the evening, and some people have breakfast meetings to prepare for the day’s events. All the attendees have just flown in from all over the world, so they are jet-lagged and adjusting to a new time zone. I watched a delegate from China nap while the AWG-KP (Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol – there’s a mouthful) discussed mitigation targets – kind of…

Today’s discussion of sectoral approaches at the Poznan Business Day brings to mind an example of benchmarking shared during IETA’s Carbon Finance Day at the side event, “Benchmarking and Project Based Mechanisms: Can they Work Together?” The example was of a French JI scheme targeting supermarket refrigerators. Refrigerators emit roughly 1/1000 of a tCO2e per year per supermarket. Because of this small scale, thousands of projects are needed to satisfy additionality requirements. Therefore, in this case, a reduction based on an industry-wide benchmark scheme is a wise solution. This project has a ratcheted benchmark: over time refrigerators must switch to HFCs with an increasingly lower level of GWP.

Many argue that sectoral approaches and benchmarking should be widely incorporated into the CDM. Already, one methodology with a…

Following on “a picture is worth a thousand dollars”

It seems that all are in agreement that climate change will affect the most those who contributed the least to the problem. Let’s call these people the ‘affectees’. I’ve always found it fascinating that you will almost always never find an ‘affectee’ at these meetings. Those of us from the ‘vulnerable’ developing countries are mostly from the labs of research organizations, lecture halls of universities, are politicians, government officials or from the NGO brigade – people whose ‘adaptive capacity’ seems quite intact and whose ‘GHG footprint’ is often comparable to the average citizen of the developed regions of the world. I have been looking out for those people who will be affected the most by climate

The 14th Conference of the Parties has been an eye opening experience.  I have been able to see how many of the organizations I have read about actually conduct their business, and I must say that I am not completely satisfied with what I am witnessing.

Many of the side events that take place throughout the conference are held in buildings adjacent to the main hall.  Walking down the corridor leaving the main area, the passageway opens up to a large, cold conservatory where most organizations have exhibits and booths setup.  Here you will find a plethora of brochures, flyers, posters, t-shirts, CD’s, and mountains of other miscellaneous climate change paraphernalia.  It is interesting, then, to attend an event and watch how many of those items end up directly…

Under a sectoral approach, countries would pledge to achieve GHG intensity targets for certain industrial sectors (such as tons CO2 produced per ton steel). Applicable sectors include electricity, cement, and steel. By encouraging sectoral emissions reductions in non-Annex I countries, sectoral playing fields can be leveled in internationally competitive sectors. Such an approach will likely alleviate fears of job loss/migration and leakage.

In a side event entitled “Benchmarking and Project Based Mechanisms: Can they Work Together?,” Holcium’s definition of “sectoral approach” was provided: a “policy, based on multiple systems with efficiency objectives and implementation mechanisms tailored to characteristics of sectors of society and regional socio-economic development.” This definition raises an important issue: the need to consider differences in national circumstances and economic development. A sectoral approach should…

Good COP Bad COP: fashion

Fashionistas

Today I’ll kick off the first in a short series of observations of everyday life at the COP, as seen through the eyes of an outsider, just so everyone at home can get a feel for it. I’ll start with one of the most visible (if superficial) topics – fashion.

COP seems to have a really heterogeneous style of dress. Men pretty much universally wear suits and collared shirts. You can spot some corduroy jackets and vests – those are the university professors. Jeans are only appropriate for certain NGO events.

Many women wear suits as well, but I’ve noticed that COP actually has its own style. To pull…