India started yesterday´s conference by reminding everyone how seriously they take Climate Change “We believe in Climate Change, and we also believe that the world needs to cut emissions drastically”. Maybe they did this to contrast the opinion of other politicians from developed countries who resist swallowing the big climate truth that the scientific community puts on their tables, or maybe it was to win environmentalists´ heart…
India did not want to leave anything behind on this conference, and took the opportunity very seriously to launch a message to the world: they should be considered as “good guys” in the climate debate. After reminding everyone that Climate negotiations are falling apart (just in case we had not read the news lately) and that emissions are increasing in almost all countries…

Press briefing on the launch of the United Nations Environmental Programme report on "Bridging the Emissions Gap". (Photo by Maya Breitburg-Smith)

Press briefing on the launch of the United Nations Environment Programme report on "Bridging the Emissions Gap". (Photo by Maya Breitburg-Smith)

A new and timely synthesis report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was formally launched at COP17 today, giving those concerned with our world’s future both new reason for hope and a new mandate for action.  The report regards the gap between existing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the actual reductions that are needed to achieve the UNFCCC’s goal of keeping global temperature increases below 2°Celsius.

The conclusion of the report is that the gap between actual reductions and needed reductions is widening.  In the words of the UNEP Executive Director Achim…

We’ve launched a website to make our game Humans vs Mosquitoes more widely available! The game was developed in Fall 2011 by a team of graduate students and faculty at Yale University and Parsons The New School for Design for the Red Cross Red Crescent to use in the field to educate children about dengue risk factors and climate change. This game showcases innovative teaching tools in the field. Playing the game will allow children and policy makers alike to understand and engage on an emotional level with complex and abstract concepts of climate change and dengue transmission. The game was played in Durban and was focused on dengue but we are hoping to expand the game beyond Durban to include other vector-borne diseases like malaria and yellow-fever…

Fashionable support for Kyoto Protocol

Posters, stickers, t-shirts, buttons— anything to get your message across to the thousands of delegates at COP 17. Here are pictures of some my favorite messages so far:

At the  CIFOR (Center for international Forestry Research) Forest day 5 ysterday, Tony La Vinã who facilitates the REDD+(Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) negotiations in the LCA (Long-term Cooperative Action) track gave updates on the state of the negotiations. He pointed out that there is developing a new breed of negotiators who believe in full transparency and participation of stakeholders in negotiations this is reflected in the SBSTA(Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice) text agreed on December 4 2011.

On negotiations at the COP concerning REDD+ are the 3 pillars of REDD+, which are:

  1. MRV (Monitoring Reporting and Verification) systems, National reference levels and emission levels and a good technical bases for assessing national performances
  2. Robust systems of safeguards and informing each other on how we

We all procrastinate, not just students, which means that a deadline can have powerful impact. This fact is true in the climate change negotiations. Much of the detailed text for the negotiations needed to be completed last week for the discussion in the plenary meetings that are happening this week.

Starting with meetings on Monday, discussions on REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and land Degradation) were opened. The chair introduced some potential draft text and negotiations took off from there. Moving slowly countries shared their objections and desired changes. Everything in these processes takes time and has to be seen as inclusive and consensus-driven (or very close to it). If you’ve ever tried to edit text in a big group, you will know how challenging this process is. Add in the fact that countries are looking for precision in the ambiguity of text to match their national positions. These are discussions where ‘a’ vs. ‘the’ matters. For those of us new to the negotiations, this arguing over details can be frustrating to say the least. I realized, however, that they are designing and developing the rules and organization of entire programs – details matter.

In South Africa, amazingly big and colorful birds that would be captured and looked after in the zoo are flying in the open, standing on the roof and singing in the morning; monkeys are chasing each other right outside the fence of our hotel; there also lies a Karaoke. This genius Japanese invention serves to warm up our night after a long day in the ICC. It is also probably the closest thing to Japan here. No doubt why some people don’t regard Durban a right place for an eternal settling down of Kyoto Protocol.

Delegates listen with headsets during the COP17 Opening Plenary ©UNFCCC

Following up on my previous post, here’s some more about diplomat-speak.

What language to speak

Like the United Nations, COP17 participants may speak in plenary meetings (where the most are in attendance and the least gets done) in six official languages: Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, English, Spanish, and French. Headsets are made available to let delegates tune in to whichever one they please. In theory, a delegate could speak in another language, but would be required to provide for interpretation.

Delegates listen with headsets during the COP17 Opening Plenary ©UNFCCC

Some country delegations nearly always speak in their own language, while others only rarely, depending on a wide…