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…

The COP is LOCO with six formal bodies meeting simultaneously, numerous official side events going on from 9am – 9pm, a week-long IETA Carbon Finance event, Forest Day, Climate and Development Days, and Business Day all in parallel.  There could be 10 other meetings I could be attending right now, but it’s time for a break, post in the blog, and relax a bit before welcoming our guests at our Yale reception :-)

Parties are discussing mechanisms for technology and financing, as well as long-term mitigation targets under the Ad-hoc Working Group for Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA).  There is agreement on some issues, but in my opinion discussions still seem too general and it would be interesting to see what conclusions the group reaches at the end of the…

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…

Defining COP is an interesting challenge. The main purpose of COP is to negotiate climate change agreements between countries. But COP is so much more than just negotiations between governments. It’s also a professional conference, a trade fair, a networking event, and an excuse to party. Alongside the official negotiations are hundreds of side events. These are discussions, presentations, protests, receptions, and parties. These side events have become an important part of the whole negotiations process. Here, delegates, NGO workers, journalists, and business people meet to exchange ideas and business cards. It’s an arena of relative informality, as opposed to the stifling formality of the negotiations. I suspect that, in many ways, this is where the real action on climate change is taking place.…

Poznan: Good Climate For Talks

Boarding the plane in Munich

The Yale contingent has arrived to the 14th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP14 – the first of endless acronyms). Twenty students will spend the next week observing the international climate change negotiations, this year held in Poznan, Poland.

The welcome posters in the airport proclaimed: “Poznan – A good climate for talks.” So far, it has been! Poznan is a former industrial city about 2 hours by train from Warsaw. Not quite as balmy as Bali, where last year’s negotiations were held, Poznan has been cooler and darker than New Haven, with a crisp mist in…