Day 7 of COP 14: 7th December 2008
I returned to the UK yesterday as COP 14 reached the half way stage. I will continue to blog through this week, relying in part on webcasts but mainly on reports from colleagues who are there for the second week. Oxford’s term has finished and a significant contingent arrived on Friday and Saturday – just in time (by chance I am sure) for two NGO parties on Friday and Saturday.
On the plane back, I tried to assess whether progress was being made, at this point, with slightly more than half of the conference over. Using the half-full versus half-empty analogy, I think ‘half-empty’ would best characterise where COP 14 has got to so far. There were never great expectations of Poznan, given its role as a staging post to Copenhagen and the disempowering effect of the US presidential vacuum. Even allowing for lowered expectations, there was a growing feeling when I left that inadequate progress was going to be made. Yvo de Boer acknowledged on Thursday that the likelihood of having negotiating text before March was low and, more realistically, that it would be June. Only then will the really difficult negotiations start; and the five remaining months until COP 15 leave an unbelievably short timeline to agree final terms for our post-Kyoto climate regime.
In the RINGO meeting I attended with the COP President, he described Poznan as developing ‘concrete pieces of mosaic for the Copenhagen meeting’. The metaphor works – at least to the extent that until the pieces are all laid out together it is impossible to see the bigger picture. But, according to IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development) in their excellent daily briefing, one COP veteran sees too little progress to deliver the completed mosaic. “We’re going to have to work hard to salvage this meeting” he said. I’m no veteran, but that fits with my own intuition.