First week of tentative hope

2011-12-03 15:29

Despite moments of concern during the first week, COP17 ended with widespread hope that the talks would not be the big disappointment delegates had initially feared.

As the conference host, South Africa kept discussions going in informal meetings, or indabas, to ensure parties kept talking.

The future of the Kyoto Protocol, the Green Climate Fund and a possible Durban roadmap all occupied the negotiations in the first week.

Much of the first week was dedicated to hard negotiations, after which a text was prepared for ministers to work with.
The negotiating text forms the basis of what the negotiators are trying to accomplish in Durban. If a treaty, memorandum of understanding, accord or protocol is signed, it is the negotiating text that will underpin it.

The high-level segment of the talks starts on Tuesday when various minsters start arriving. At this stage, only 12 heads of state, none from the big economies, are expected.

During the week, International Relations Minister and COP17 president Maite Nkoana-Mashabane arranged several indabas between countries to encourage dialogue.

The ad-hoc working group that deals with long-term cooperative governance produced a rough negotiating text that had UN climate chief Christiana Figueres and Nkoana-Mashabane smiling.

Figueres said: “It is not a perfect text by any means and it still requires work, but it will give governments homework to do over the weekend.”

There were worries that the ad-hoc working group on the Kyoto Protocol was still not ready to deliver their negotiating text.

The Kyoto Protocol is under threat, with three countries – Russia, Japan and Canada – unwilling to sign on to a second commitment period.

But the European Union, a key party to Kyoto, made encouraging noises about continuing for a second commitment period.

Figueres said: “The EU would like clarity on a process that is going to lead us to a broader, more inclusive framework before they commit to Kyoto.”

According to her, even though the Kyoto Protocol group was lagging behind in presenting its text to the ministers, good progress has been made.

The Green Climate Fund continued presenting problems to negotiators, although City Press understands that the COP presidency was confident that it would be sorted out in Durban.

The fund is supposed to channel money from rich countries to help poor countries adapt to climate change.

Some issues include Western countries worrying about the lack of governance controls in the developing world, according to a South African delegate.

The Alliance of Small Island States fears that funding preference will be given to the bigger emerging economies like South Africa, Brazil, China and Russia – named by one delegate as the “bully boys of the developing world”.

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