Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The CI delegation strategy on the ground

CI Head of Delegation at the Copenhagen climate talks, Rasmus Kjeldahl, provides an insight into NGO strategising as negotiations gather pace.

Arrival at the Bella Center at 11.30 a.m. A very long queue of NGO representatives who had not checked in threatened to block the metro station. As however we had had the foresight to register during the weekend, we could enter conference venue almost directly after security check.

Our first task was to find our way around and to check where to get the relevant information. The atmosphere is like at a trade fair, with hundreds of stands where organisations and countries present themselves. Nobody expects to see many top politicians this week, which is characterised by negotiations between the experienced COP civil servants.

The important negotiations do not really take place at the official conference – to which NGO observers have access – but at a number of informal meetings where still smaller groups of countries participate. Last time I participated in this level of climate negotiations (back then it was on behalf of the European Commission) was in Buenos Aires 1998 where the final negotiations took place between only four people on the last night when everybody else had gone home or slept on chairs and in the corridors.

During the day the CI delegation has participated in a number of formal and informal meetings. One important point in dispute at most meetings is whether the talks should result in a legally binding deal or whether we should just go for a political deal which could be replaced by a legally binding deal during the next year. The developing countries generally set the level of ambition at a legally binding deal, whereas countries such as the US, Canada, Japan and Australia point at a political deal. There is hardly any doubt who will win that dispute…

At the first big plenary meeting the developed countries were sharply attacked by the Group of 77 and China for having led a press campaign with the aim of placing responsibility of any failure with the developing countries. The ground is clearly prepared for requirements in a new deal that considerably more means are allocated to support the developing countries’ efforts to head off the effects of climate change and to introduce renewable energy and energy-efficient technology.

At the morning meeting on Tuesday there was a high attendance. CI Director General Joost Martens has now arrived, which will strengthen the strategy onwards. Indrani Thuraisingham from Malaysia has kindly offered to be the deputy head of the delegation, if needs be.
One recurring subject at CI’s morning meeting was the need for our delegation to establish formal meetings with representatives of the developing world. Fortunately several of our delegates have good contacts so that should be possible.

Much of the discussion here will revolve around the elements needed to implement the ’Bali Action Plan’. It is important that we, the CI delegation, start to focus on it – and we decided at the morning meeting that each member of delegation should specialize in one of the subtopics. It is our hope that after today’s meetings we will have a somewhat clearer idea of what will be the right CI strategy for the rest of the negotiations. One important item at the Wednesday morning meeting should therefore be to decide on the focus from now on.

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