Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14th, 8:59 PM CET

A post from Kathryn -

I know my contribution to this blog has been minimal thus far, but I guess that’s fitting after the progress we saw made today. Jessie, Olivia and I headed out from Morten’s today only to find a huge line of conference attendees outside Bella. After an hour spent in the cold (The prize, aka one Danish pastry, goes to Olivia for making the best guess as to when we would get in - 10:30!), we finally got through security in time to sit down briefly with a STIA alum to talk about her experiences with the negotiations.

Later we headed over to a civil society briefing in which we were told that access to the center would be limited on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. On Thursday 1,000 NGO reps will be admitted, and on Friday only 90 out of 15,000 available spaces will be reserved for NGOs, to make room for the “high level officials and their entourages.” Needless to say, this may be one of our last days spent in the center, considering there are around 25,000 NGO employees and affiliates accredited.

But what an exciting day it has been! We were lucky enough to witness a historic debate about the pros and cons of the phrases ‘cited by’, ‘referenced by’ or quoted in’ , as well as some in-depth grammatical analyses. Many of the open working group sessions were cancelled or postponed indefinitely.

The actual excitement happened behind the scenes. We also heard through the grapevine that members of the G77 walked out of sessions earlier in the day. According to reports, the negotiations seem to be stalled in critical areas like emissions reductions commitments from Annex I countries, and our experience today seems to affirm these rumors. We are currently sitting in the Hans Christian Andersen room waiting to hear contact group discussions on emissions trading/project-based mechanisms and Annex I emissions reductions, and the word on the street is that the later will be juicy. But if nothing gets resolved soon, it may just be left up to the heads of state to come up with an acceptable, if last minute, agreement. In general I would consider optimism and energy levels low.

The contrast between my experiences today and yesterday, which I spent at Klimaforum, is striking. Despite (or perhaps because of) the informal setting, participants there seemed energized, full of ideas, and ready to start a green revolution. In particular, the guest speaker Dr. Vandana Shiva, a physics, activist, grass-roots organizer and official government consultant was incredibly inspirational. She is a shining example of an idealist that, throughout her extensive and influential career, has refused to sacrifice her core beliefs in pursuit of a greener, more sustainable future. Her message - that we don’t have to wait for governments to agree to start making the necessary changes to address the current global climate change, poverty, health and welfare crises - seemed to resonate with the crowds, particularly in the light of the current stalemate of negotiations.

Even after a particularly unproductive day of negotiations here in Bella (so far - it's not over yet), I can’t help but be excited for the future of these integrated climate, development, agriculture, gender and forestry movements.

Look for more on Klimaforum from Olivia coming up in the next few posts!

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