Climate negotiations: day 4

NGOs cannot stay at the conference venues after 10 pm and there is a proposal to keep NGOs away from SBI meetings. Thawing of permafrost was highlighted by South African press while no reaction from Russia on this issue. Poland lobbies coal while misusing its EU Presidency status. African countries may not receive most of the proposed funding to fight climate change.

Rules for NGO participation to change

The fourth day of climate negotiations in Durban was not rich in surprises, either negative or positive. Compared to the previous days there has been no progress yet. The only thing that left a bitter aftertaste along with the vague wording at the negotiations were the first signs of a harsh attempt at putting NGO participation under control. Since yesterday the observers, the people with yellow badges are not allowed to remain on the UNFCCC territory after 10 pm. At the same time there are no restrictions for badges of other colors, i.e. for press, party etc. This means that NGOs now lose the opportunity to follow the events happening beyond the regular schedule. Simultaneously, the US came up with an initiative to close SBI meetings for observers. It is understandable that NGOs regard this situation as unacceptable.

Permafrost thawing

Today several local papers and magazines addressed the issue of permafrost thawing as the result of global climate change. They cite a recent review published in Nature magazine which says that GHG emissions from the thawing of permafrost will have a bigger effect on global climate change than deforestation. A temperature increase by 2 degrees may release an equivalent of 125 billion tons of carbon equivalent in the sub-Arctic regions. According to the UN, the warming in those areas is happening 2 times faster than the average for the planet as a whole. IN November EIA published their analysis of world energy policies and came to a conclusion that current developments may cause a temperature growth by over 3,5 degrees. The warming of the Arctic has already led to a record melting of marine ice and the retreat of glaciers in Greenland and elsewhere. Scientists call on to countries to pay close attention to this issue and to adopt necessary commitments to keep global warming within the 2 degrees limit. This is especially crucial for Russia which may be the one most affected by the process, but at the same time is not intended on taking more ambitious commitments upon itself.

Coal to stay away from Kyoto

Yesterday Poland was awarded the Fossil of the Day award for lobbying the interests of coal industry while having the EU presidency as an advantage. Their official Presidency logo was used at the coal lobby conference in Brussels a while back. This step was highly criticized by some members of the Euro parliament. It was said that this kind of action is only weakening the EU position at the negotiations and that the presiding country must instead play an important role in strengthening it. It is necessary to keep in mind that coal contributes to around 43% of global GHG emissions. At the conference there is a campaign in full effect to exclude coal projects from the CDM. Coal is a dirty source and it creates loopholes for creating artificial emssions reduction units on paper while actually contributing to a more significant growth of GHG emissions. The use of coal may add up 1 to 6 Gtons of carbon equivalent by 2020!

Fossil of the Day

Today no one was outspoken enough to receive the nomination. The Canada was close to becoming the positive Rey of the Day award for the lack of any declarations at all during the day which was considered a positive sign keeping their previous announcements in mind – about the uselessness of the new agreement, for not willing to accept historical responsibility of the developed countries and for the Tar Sands, of course.

No money for Africa?

Very lengthy and difficult negotiations about the distribution of financial aid to the most vulnerable countries are still there. Today the Africa group presented their own calculations, according to which out of 29,2 billion dollars claimed since 2009 only a bit under 2 are new and additional and do not form part of any other aid programs. 55% of the overall planned funding is not guaranteed as there are no formal commitments. There are less money allocated for adaptation than for mitigation, while adaptation measures are crucial for poor African states that are among those most vulnerable to climate change.