Fossil of the Day & Ray of the Day

fossil_poster

Each day of the conference, Climate Action Network (CAN) presents two awards, “Fossil of the Day” and “Ray of the Day.” The “Fossil of the Day” award is presented to a country judged to have done their best to block progress in the negotiations during that day. The “Ray of the Day” is given to countries that are a ray of hope of the past day of negotiations.

So far, here are the countries that have earned each award at COP19:

Fossil of the Day

Day 1: Austraila

Day 2: Poland

Day 3: 1st place: Australia, 2nd place: Turkey & “Fossil of Disbelief”: Canada

Ray of the Day

Day 1: “Ray of Solidarity”: the Phillipines

Day 2: Renewable Energy Loving Polish People

Day 3: Not announced yet

To read why each country was named either Fossil or Ray of the Day and why special awards have been created, check out CAN’s Fossil of the Day page.

Loss and Damages

Yesterday afternoon, Jake and I attended a contact group on approaches to address loss and damage due to climate change. This is a very important time to follow this issue because there are currently no modalities and procedures to address loss and damage.

A quick background:

Where mitigation and adaptation fail, people affected by climate change’s impacts may face damages to their property or health or permanent loss of land, resources, other assets, and even loss of life. The idea of compensation for loss and damage caused by climate change was proposed, but then tabled, during negotiations in 1991. Historically, high-emitting, developed countries have expressed concerns about being held liable for potentially unlimited damages and have resisted a firm decision on the issue. There are also significant challenges associated with attributing specific losses and damages directly to climate change and calculating compensation. Last year in Doha, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and island states pushed the issue until the Parties agreed to establish “institutional arrangements, such as an international mechanism” that would help developing countries that are vulnerable to impacts address irrecoverable losses and damages from climate change. Negotiations around loss and damage are expected to include discussions of rehabilitation, reconstruction, and compensation for damages from extreme and slow-onset weather events.

At the contact group, parties shared their views on the mandate from the 38th Subsidiary Body for Implementation which took place in June 2013 and asked parties to identify activities for the next phase of the loss and damage work programme.

The United States’ statements yesterday during this group were interesting and revealed some insights into how the US views the issue of loss and damage. First, the US delegate explained how climate change could affect countries, describing the process of sea level rise, salination, ocean acidification, extreme weather events and other potential impacts.  Next, the US highlighted its commitment to the Nansen Initiative to address cross border displacement issues due to climate change-related disasters and other natural disasters. The US affirmed that it was committed to making significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 in order to achieve its Copenhagen goal of reducing emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. The US stated that the impending loss and damage is broad and even with the best risk reduction and adaptation strategies , we will never reduce the risk to zero. Accordingly, there should be a focus on the potential for technical, financial and capacity building support to reduce the severity of and respond to loss and damage.  Finally,  the US also noted its history of providing aid to countries in distress in the wake of natural disasters and called attention to its recently announced  $20 million dollar aid package for the Philippines.

Bolivia, on behalf of G77 and China, declared that an ad hoc response to these events is not appropriate. Bolivia asserted that they would not leave Warsaw without a response that goes beyond cosmetic changes to guidance for future work. They called for a substantive response that matches the severity of the dramatic, drastic impacts they are already seeing. Bangladesh echoed those sentiments in their remarks. Nauru, speaking on behalf of Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), highlighted the longstanding need to fill this gap in the UNFCCC and address humanitarian needs after climate-related natural disasters and impacts. Nauru, on behalf of AOSIS, and Timor-Leste, on behalf of LDCs, both declared their support for the position and submission advanced by G77. Other countries present that made comments were Switzerland, Egypt, Tanzania, New Zealand, El Salvador, the Philippines and Indonesia.

The Philippines was one of the last countries to speak and the delegate broke down in tears when discussing the importance of creating a comprehensive and meaningful approach for loss and damages as soon as possible. It was a very intense, poignant moment that underscored the gravity of losses that are already occurring and exigency of the task ahead.

You can read over the three current submissions of proposed approaches  from the EU, Norway, and G77 & China here.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary’s Decision to Speak at the Coal Summit

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, released a letter explaining her decision to speak at the International Coal and Climate Summit. The summit was organized by the World Coal Association and Poland’s Economy Ministry and will be taking place here in Warsaw next week, November 18-19. Her letter was a response to an open letter written and signed by several NGOs, which expressed concern for her presence at the event. It will be interesting to see what happens at the coal summit, as well as whether and how Figueres’ decision to speak there will affect the negotiations next week.

Letter from NGOs to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres

Response from Christiana Figueres

Here are background articles about the coal summit if you would like more background information:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/08/un-climate-talks-poland-coal?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/un-climate-chief-urged-to-withdraw-from-warsaw-coal-conference-1.1590170

Monday Night and Some Tuesday Highlights

Hi everyone!

Yesterday was the first day of COP19. There is an incredible amount of activity here at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland. Here is a quick overview of some of the most interesting and controversial events from yesterday and today. Blog posts focused on specific issues and impressions are in the works!

Last night we attended  a reception at the Warsaw University Library. There were appearances from Hanna Gronkeiwicz-Waltz, Mayor of Warsaw; Christiana Figueres UN Climate Secretary and Marcin Korolec, President-Designate of the Conference and Polish Minister of the Environment (all pictured below).

COPpres

The library was a stunning venue for the reception and the Polish government arranged a variety of music and entertainment acts for the evening.

photo

One of the musical acts that performed last night was The Recycling Band who play instruments made from recycled materials.

band

Check out this video on how they have made their instruments and you can listen to some of their songs here.

This morning, we all attended the Youth in Non-Governmental Organizations (“YOUNGO”) meeting. YOUNGO is very interested in seeing a meaningful agreement come out of the negotiations that is calculated to significantly reduce emissions and move away from fossil fuels. Some of the NGOs represented are: Connected Voices, Sustain US, Young Friends of the Earth, Global Voices and [Earth in Brackets].

There are several working groups operating as part of YOUNGO, including Loss & Damage, Fossil Fuels, Adaptation, Intergenerational Equity, Capacity Building, Finance, and Land Use, Agriculture & Forestry. You can follow YOUNGO through their facebook group.

At the YOUNGO meeting this morning, Sustain US and Climate Action Network (“CAN”) announced that they would engage in a solidarity fast to show their support for the Philippines. This announcement spurred a discussion of possible solidarity fast by YOUNGO, but no agreement was reached on the parameters for how such a fast would be conducted. Sustain US and CAN started their fast this afternoon and it remains unclear whether they will be engaged in a complete fast or whether they will solely be fasting during the hours that COP is running each day. Follow Sustain US on twitter to see photos of the action and CAN’s blog to stay updated.

Jake and I went to an informal consultation on CDM modalities and procedures this morning. We heard from the European Union, Togo, Indonesia, South Africa, China, Brasil, Malawi, Switzerland, Lebanon, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Egypt on what elements of the CDM they think should be reviewed and revised and whether new sections should be added.

CDM discussion

The discussion yielded a lot of interesting ideas and perspectives, but ultimately the parties were asked to focus on whether they actually be expected to create new modalities and procedures in Warsaw or merely guidance for future work. Looking at the schedule for the next two weeks, the CDM group realized they would only meet two other times, once for 45 minutes and once for an hour and half. It was clear how difficult it is to accomplish substantive goals like revising modalities and procedures during the Conference of the Parties itself. Some delegates suggested that an electronic working group be created where parties can write proposals and new language. The co-chairs facilitating the session agreed to try to find time to arrange an additional meeting in the hopes that some substantive progress can be made. However, it was noted that it would have been best if new or revised sections were drafted ahead of the conference that could be re-worked and potentially adopted over the course of the next two weeks. The parties also discussed the possibility of meeting informally if additional time could not be scheduled.

Informative blogs and twitter feeds to follow:

TckTckTck is an alliance of 400 NGOs: https://twitter.com/tcktcktck

Adopt a Negotiator follows negotiators from several key countries: http://adoptanegotiator.org/

[Earth in Brackets] is a group of students from the College of the Atlantic:  https://twitter.com/earthinbrackets

International Youth Climate Movement: https://twitter.com/IYCM