Monday, 7 December 2009

How to put forth the consumer position in climate talks

CI Head of Delegation, Rasmus Kjeldahl, at the COP15 climate talks in Copenhagen reports back after the first briefing of CI staff.

Let’s just face it: Consumers International is a new player in the climate negotiations and it will be a huge challenge to get the consumer angle on the map. If however we are to play a role in the future when it comes to ensuring a reasonable implementation of a new climate agreement, we need to gain access to the negotiating table – globally and nationally.

At the meeting with the delegation this morning one particular purpose was to match expectations to what we can achieve and to agree on a working method. We agreed to be realistic: our presence will hardly move the negotiation result significantly this time. On the other hand we hope to achieve the following:

1) to get an understanding of what subjects in the negotiations are the most important to consumers;
2) which states and people are decisive for the result;
3) to extend our network with green organisations which want the same as us;
4) to find out how we can gain as much influence as possible on the climate negotiations in future;
5) to make it clear to as many people as possible that consumers need to be involved if the negotiation results are to be realized in an economically and politically acceptable way.

So today the important thing is to get started and to get an overview of the situation. Everybody in the CI delegation has been assigned to cover one or more meetings. This means reporting back on the content of the meeting – on what subjects are important to our own agenda and who are the central people. We must also be on the lookout for the chance of meeting with other delegations and examining the possibilities of presenting a united front.

Tomorrow morning we will take stock of the situation again and see whether we can further focus our efforts. During the event more than 200 seminars run parallel with the official agenda so it is important to select with care.

A few words about the delegation:
The members of Consumer International’s (CI) climate delegation have started to arrive and prepare the work. We have two staff members from CI’s London office, Ruth and Jo, who are to ensure the planning and structuring of our work during the entire two weeks. We also have delegation members from Serbia, Germany, Malaysia, Cameroon, Kenya, Korea, Brazil and Denmark. And CI’s Director General and President are expected later this week.

Most of the foreign guests are accommodated privately – and for free – with staff of the Danish Consumer Council. This solidarity will contribute to giving the climate summit a very personal dimension for many of us. I myself anticipate hosting Serge from Cameroon who is expected later today.

This is the team that will put consumers on the climate agenda during the Copenhagen negotiations.

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