From the TUC

Durban diary 9: Expectation management backfires

09 Dec 2011, by in Environment

UN Climate Change Conference, DurbanAfter nearly two weeks of stalled progress at the Durban climate conference, U.S. youth spoke out today for a real, science-based climate treaty.  Abigail Borah, a New Jersey resident, interrupted the start of lead U.S. negotiator Todd Stern’s speech to “call out” members of Congress for impeding global climate progress, delivering a passionate plea for an urgent path towards a fair and binding climate treaty. She was then ejected by security, but not before her delivery was applauded by the entire plenary.

The South African Presidency had warned stakeholders to ‘interact but don’t cause tensions’. This follows the ejection yesterday of six young Canadian activists from the conference. ETUC Confederal Secretary Judith Kirton-Darling reports from Durban that:

“We are apparently important as representatives of the world’s population, but we are told that negotiations are built on trust and that stakeholders should interact “without causing tensions”. I sense that there is ‘expectation management’ going on, the Presidency was keen to stress that the whole process has been ‘Party-driven’ and therefore the Presidency has no expectations.”

A day before the end of the COP, what results  might we see against our initial demands?

  • KP2 in the interim: If so-called unused emissions permits or “hot air” can be taken into the next period this could mean an extremely weak KP2. The Brazilians are proposing that only those countries that can prove they’ve made an effort should be able to take them forward. This seems to be gaining traction with some. The EU position is yet to be discussed – but the Polish Presidency is keen to defend Poland’s interests and surplus allowances.
  • Roadmap: it increasingly sounds like the US is only willing to talk about post-KP2 (i.e. post-2020). There’s a danger that we’ll end up with a very weak text only making reference to a legally-based outcome (some are questioning this strongly) and no timetable to start or end.
  • Finance: this is more positive, perhaps. The Global Fund could be the main achievement, with attempts in Europe to get some capitalisation (Germany and Denmark have committed start-up funds). There’s a draft EU paper on capitalisation floating around but not agreed yet.
  • Operationalising “Just Transition” and green economic growth: there seems to be some positive movement here. There’s a text from the Umbrella Group and a meeting this evening to discuss further.

India will no doubt have noted that the carbon trading market may be headed for a crash if negotiations are any indication, according to experts. This is likely to impact China and India the most, as the two make up almost three quarters of the multi-billion dollar trade on carbon exchanges.