Climate march in Lima and fresh ideas in talks

The COP20 talks are taking place in an unlikely venue  - a military base outside of town.  Despite the reporting of its carbon footprint, being built from scratch to accommodate ten thousand people, it is working well as a venue. Depending on your viewpoint, it could be seen as bizarre or appropriate that the COP is ringed around by a military training obstacle course.

People's Climate March continues in Lima

Today was my first time venturing out of the COP20 venue and into the streets of Lima. The Peoples’ Climate March of September’s mass global mobilization continued through the streets of Lima. The crowd estimates were 10,000- 15,000 people. It was a positive and exuberant gathering that stretched for kilometres through the heart of Lima.

Back at COP

Meanwhile, back at COP, the negotiations have now layered on multiple sentences and clauses in alternatives and options.  It is hard to imagine how this COP can conclude with a consensus draft before we adjourn on Friday.  I predict an all-nighter for tomorrow.

New ideas

Meanwhile, Brazil has thrown some interesting ideas into the mix.  The architecture of a deal is still under debate.  What should the industrialized countries with responsibility for the majority of emissions in our atmosphere be responsible to reduce? (One must remember that “historic emissions” are not history.  With a lifetime in the atmosphere of 100 years, the carbon pollution from the industrialized world is still a much larger share of the atmospheric concentrations of carbon than those from the recently equally polluting power of China.)   What should the larger rapidly industrializing countries (such as China and Brazil) take on?  

The Kyoto Protocol, based on the successful Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer, was based on “common but differentiated” responsibilities and targets.  Both protocols set out that industrialized nations should move first on emissions.  Many industrialized countries hit or exceeded Kyoto targets.  But the USA’s refusal to ratify and Canada’s withdrawal from Kyoto have left a residue of distrust between North and South.

Brazil’s new proposal opens a conversation around these tough and intractable issues.  “Concentric differentiation” calls for industrialized countries to move forward together with economy-wide real reductions, while developing countries (other than the very poorest, called Least Developed Countries, or LDCs) would move to economy wide targets based on relative units of reduction (or intensity targets).

It can be depicted as a series of three circles: the inner core is the industrialized countries with economy-wide targets with absolute reductions; the next circle is the larger developing countries – often called the “emerging economies,” with intensity, per capita or relative reduction targets; and the outer circle, by LDCs with non-economy-wide targets. Over time, all countries on the outer edges move to the centre.

This may not be exactly the right formula, but it is creating buzz.

Canada creating buzz - the wrong kind

Also creating buzz for the first time in a long time at COPs is Canada.  Stephen Harper’s “crazy, crazy” blast from yesterday’s QP made it to the civil society daily news sheet today.  I had delegates from all around the world asking me if it was true. Had our Prime Minister actually said in Parliament, this week of all weeks, that it would be “crazy” to reduce GHG from the oil and gas sector?  Yes, I had to say, that’s what he said.

Tomorrow, we are likely to see the pressure ramp up.  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to join his government’s delegation.  The Peruvian presidency will be hoping to gavel some agenda items as completed.  A safe bet is that we will go into over-time hours.


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  • commented 2014-12-12 12:24:10 -0800
    Thank heavens you are there. No one else is reporting on these issues at this level.