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COP17: Young Trackers Share Final Thoughts on Climate Change Talks

Adopt a Negotiator Project trackers updated their blogs daily during the two weeks of climate change talks at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, COP17, held from November 28 to December 9, 2011, in South Africa. Trackers followed negotiations from their regional perspectives, writing in languages like Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, French, Polish and English.

One of the major results of the conference was the second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding international treaty to reduce green house emissions. However, the commitment was weak, as major polluters like Canada, US, Japan, Russia, Australia and New Zealand refused to sign into this second period.

Climate activists and organizations of civil society were disappointed about the outcomes of the conference, especially because countries agreed to a new legal instrument that will replace the Kyoto Protocol by 2020, when urgent action is needed.

Here are were some of the most relevant conclusions written by the trackers:

South Africa tracker Alex Lenferna reports on the final events in the post “An Interim Disappointment at COP 17″:

I should be on a bus home now; instead I’m sitting in the ICC waiting for the proverbial white smoke to emerge as ministers try to bring COP17 to a close. Last night was supposed to be the closing night for COP 17, but there has been much disagreement among the global community around some very problematic texts that are being discussed around long-term cooperative action and the Kyoto Protocol…

Farrukh Zaman, following Pakistan, writes in “Decisions at COP17: Delayed or Derailed?”:

So while the delay has happened at COP17, let’s hope the negotiations don’t get derailed by postponing them till next year. But just one thing of caution, even though time has and is running out, we don’t need haste decisions; rather we want fair, ambitious and balanced package out of Durban. If that can’t happen here, then COP bis can be our last resort.

France tracker Sébastien Duyck in “Endless conference towards an agreement on never ending negotiations” concludes:

Regarding negotiations for a comprehensive agreement that would include legally binding targets for emissions reduction, the Presidency proposes yet another extension of the discussions. This approach convinces few among the observers still in the conference venue. It appears that we keep relaying on the same solutions (creating a new ad-hoc working group…), despite the fact that they have already been tested repeatedly in the past and have not delivered any successful outcome since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

Daily Trackers meeting – COP17, Durban. Photo by Andrea Arzaba

In “Do białego rana. Noc kobiet” (“Until dawn. Women's Night”), Milosz Hordun, Poland's tracker, says:

Ta noc należy do kobiet. Po pierwsze jest Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, przewodnicząca obradom. Zdecydowanie zmęczona ostatnimi dwoma tygodniami. Stara się skutecznie prowadzić strony do celu, udowadniając że afrykański COP może być skuteczny i przełomowy. Często jednak się gubi w procedurach, musi prosić o wsparcie sekretariatu. Jest Conni Hedegaard, unijna komisarz. Także na jej twarzy maluje się zmęczenie. Widać, że trudno jest jej znosić ogromną presję psychiczną, związaną z rozbratem między oczekiwaniami wielu Europejczyków oraz środowisk ekologicznych na całym świecie a możliwościami negocjacyjnymi.

This night is a women's night. First of all, there is Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who chairs the session. She is definitively tired from the last two weeks. She does her best to lead the two sides towards a common goal, proving that the African COP may be successful and become a turning point. However, she gets lost in the proceedings quite often; she has to ask the secretary for help. There is also Connie Hedegaard – European Commissioner [for Climate Action]. Though tiredness is written all over her face, too. You can see how difficult it is for her to handle this enormous pressure as there is a gap between what many Europeans and environmentalist through the globe hope for and negotiating possibilities.

Priti Rajagopalan, from India, summarized the conference's accomplishments in the post “COP17-This is what happened“:

5.18am, International Convention Center, Durban

The verdict is out. What was accomplished at Durban.

1) Something called the Durban railtrack or trackroad ..oh, wait…platform.
2) Empty second commitment period
3) Empty green climate fund
4) Sleepy people most of whom had left by the time the final verdict was given.
5) How manipulative, apparently transparent democratic , multilateral process works.
6) People are looking for CBDR and Bali. If someone finds it, please return it.
7) Unclear mitigation target.
8) Massive failure of a peaceful kind.

To read other final posts of trackers following the United States, Mexico, Australia, China, Canada and New Zealand, among many others,  visit Adopt a Negotiator Project webpage.

Andrea Arzaba participated in COP17 as a Young Tracker for Mexico [es].
Thanks to Krzysztof Pawliszak for translating Milosz Hordun's quote.

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