The latest from Greenpeace Political Adviser Geoff Keey in Bonn -
It’s 11pm. I’m sitting outside a small meeting room at the UN climate talks in Bonn with five of my Greenpeace colleagues. We’re waiting for people inside to come out. It may be a long wait.
Here in this diplomatic Alice in Wonderland of papers called non-papers, informal meetings which are extremely formal and an unbelievable number of acronyms, a battle is brewing over words; words which will decide the fate of millions.
To explain this battle, I’ll need to give you some background. Most developed countries are in a group called “Annex 1.” These are the countries that took on binding promises to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution. They did this by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. New Zealand is a member of Annex 1.
At this meeting, Annex 1 countries, including New Zealand, were supposed to propose new commitments but some, including New Zealand have not. In any case none have offered the 40% cuts needed to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.
Developing countries, particularly those at severe threat from climate change, such as Tuvalu, have become very frustrated with the lack of commitment from developed countries and have come up with their own ideas for what developed countries should do.
Annex 1 countries appear to have been freaked out by this and are ganging up on the developing countries. And so we have a diplomatic battle.
This battle is being fought over the words contained in one paragraph in the recommendations that are to emerge from the negotiations. Words here have consequences.
The ‘offending’ paragraph notes information about targets put forward by Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) – including New Zealand’s Pacific partners. AOSIS has proposed that developed countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2020 and 90% by 2050 to reduce greenhouse gas concentration to below 350ppm. This is the greenhouse gas concentration that current science indicates should avoid dangerous levels of climate change.
It appears that this is too much for developed countries. Rumour has it that the EU has ganged up with Umbrella Group countries (including New Zealand) to shaft the small island states. So that brings us to the current waiting game.
Negotiators from each side of the battle – called “friends of the chair” (though they’re not friends with each other right now) - are meeting with the chair of this strand of the negotiations. They’re job is to strike a deal. And so we wait.
Will New Zealand stand up for its Pacific partners?
I’ll let you know….