Friday, 18 December 2009

COP15 says goodbye to Tuvalu

CI's Head of Delegation at COP15, Rasmus Kjeldahl, reflects on two chaotic weeks in Copenhagen

At COP15 - where the only guarantee is that the agreement we have is considerably less ambitious and binding than many had hoped for - it is time to take stock of my organisation Consumer International's participation as an observer to the negotiations.

Overall, I must initially disappoint you; we have not been able to make a difference to the actual negotiations. Although we had not really expected to do that.

We have, however, become a lot wiser about how a COP meeting progresses and what the rules are - especially when just getting access to the negotiations is a huge challenge. Two of our delegation members from Brussels never entered the venue of the negotiations despite many hours of waiting in the biting cold.

If you want to influence the negotiations the way forward is to have good contacts with - and influence over - national delegations. It is beyond any doubt that many of the G77 countries did receive advice from NGO’s both before and during the COP15. The case of Tuvalu is a good example of this. The advice gives influence and helps to compensate poor nations for the lack of human resources to engage the negotiations.

Another lesson is that it is difficult to a balanced view from the media - the press were largely occupied with the activists who engaged in demonstrations or in direct actions. It is clear that the press bare some responsibility for promoting irresponsible actions and demonstrations and not promoting enough the many peaceful protests – such as our own Guardian Angels for Climate Protection.

Regarding the negotiations, it is hard not to be somewhat disillusioned with the confusion that has prevailed throughout. This applies both to the logistics around the COP and to the way in which negotiations proceeded - the involvement of NGOs was clearly not thought through and this has been a major contributor to the low mood of the delegates and to the poor outcome.

You get the feeling that the ability of the key negotiators to manage the process and the Danish ability to coordinate could have been better. This point should clearly be worked on and improved given the fact that Denmark, as the EU presidency country, will lead the EU delegation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Brazil in 2012.

Regarding the outcome – well there is certainly enough to work with in Mexico at the next COP. However I do know that the outcome of Copenhagen is not good enough for the inhabitants of Tuvalu and the many other low-lying islands who will not be able to look confidently to the future.

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