Dispatches from COP 20, Lima.
Another day passed at COP 20 Lima, is the best expression to inform the readers about what happened on the last day (3rd December). Science is recommending urgent action, but there seems to be no urgency in the talks. The negotiations are taking place in English, better say “English with overflowing jargons” which is not the first language of most of the delegates present. As a result clarity is sought on almost every phrase mentioned in the text. All this is justified and helps in democratizing the process, but it is a painfully slow process and progress is being made at snail’s pace. I’m following the discussion on the draft decision text of “Advancing the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)”. Last day in the session dedicated to ADP, countries had cat fights in very diplomatic still unkind language.
To fasten the conversation on ADP, Co-chair of the session, Kishan Kumar Singh, proposed to start with general reflection of countries that are called parties on draft text. Their thoughts in the form of interventions can be gathered at the same time through email and placed on website for everyone to access. The chair with the support of secretariat can later incorporate those inputs, synthesize and place it on wider screen for longer detailed discussions. This was considered undemocratic by many countries. Nigerian delegate with “newest version of Apple Laptop” on his table registered his protest against the proposition in high pitch, by saying that he and others are not very tech-friendly, and will prefer the text on the bigger screen to begin with. To me, that act seem to be nothing more than a delaying tactic as they can see the draft text on their laptop screen and avail the interventions from the UNFCCC website, and reserve and share their thoughts by notifying the chair. Too much to ask for from those who own Mac devises?!
South African delegate hinted that the inability to display on the text on screen is a conspiracy of developed countries to impose their agenda, delegation from Argentina also voiced similar concerns. Developed countries which include Switzerland, United States suggested toeing the line of the chair and moving further. Frustrated with the slow progress chair- Kishan spoke in harsh and sarcastic terms, and said tomorrow the session will begin with the text displayed on screen- “we will go line by line, word by word, comma by comma, and full stop by full stop”. On which South African delegated reacted with humor and wit, saying- “Mr. Chair, are you threatening by saying-‘line by line, word by word, comma by comma, full stop by full stop’”. Tuvalu whose existence is being threatened by climate change chose to facilitate the conversation. Tuvalu’s intervention was to constitute “Friends of chair” to define the procedures. Kishan still angry and frustrated, went on to question whether there are any friends left in the room?
India was a ‘good boy’ in the tent. Lead negotiator Ravi Shankar Prasad presented India’s interventions on the following paragraph, and water down the text further:
Paragraph -2 “Decides that the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action shall conclude its work as early as possible by making a recommendation for a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties and any accompanying draft decisions for adoption by the Conference of the Parties at its twenty-first session (November–December 2015);”
India suggested removal of as early as possible from the given paragraph and also advocated to replace recommendation for a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force with recommendation for a draft text, which means in simpler words please slow down the process and produce one more text which will be open again for constant nagging and negotiation.
Another intervention was to strengthen the text on ‘political parity between mitigation and adaptation in the potential protocol’:
“Affirms its determination to achieve political parity between mitigation and adaptation in the protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force referred to in paragraph 2 above;”
The reference to ‘protocol’ as mentioned above was replaced by ‘draft text’. India proposed replacing ‘political’ with ‘legal’ to strengthen the watered down text.
The interventions were received but no more discussion took place on the text. Session was adjourned with a call to have a meeting of ‘friends of chair’ to reach a compromise. Negotiators from Pakistan, Argentina, United States, Singapore, Tuvalu, China and New Zealand amongst the others active speakers were invited for the same.