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Daily Tck: Day 1 of the UN climate talks in Geneva

By February 9, 2015 No Comments
  • Negotiations got underway quickly, feeding a constructive spirit at the start of talks
  • Concerns over ballooning text realized; new additions to be collected through Monday
  • NGOs emphasize the role of human rights, and see the emergence of government champions and villains
  • Outside Geneva, pressure to ditch fossil fuels will build throughout this week

The year’s first round of UN climate negotiations officially kicked off in Geneva on Sunday morning. Our partners’ snowy walk to the historic Palais des Nations was only the first hint of contrast between this round and Lima’s warm but heated last days. According to Negotiator Tracker Federico Brocchieri, “The wind’s chill here in Geneva seemed to have cooled rival tempers and led negotiators to give up their moments on the opening podium to save time to get straight into negotiating.” Government delegates quickly moved through the opening plenary, and set their focus on their primary goal of shaping the Lima Call for Climate Action into a streamlined draft negotiating text (more on that in our curtain raiser); starting with the sections focused on the general objective of the new agreement and on mitigation.

With the scope and scale of climate solutions increasingly affecting the lives of individuals around the world, some 240 organizations and networks joined a strong push to strengthen the role of human rights as a guiding principle, hoping to see governments champion the cause. And champions there were – Mexico, Uganda the EU and Chile stood up and called on Human Rights and Gender Equity to be included in the general objectives section. Switzerland, Norway and Brazil, however, pushed in the opposite direction. Other countries, like the US and Saudi Arabia, questioned the necessity of a general objections section altogether.

In the session dedicated to mitigation options, negotiators made more than 50 additions before the co-chair closed the meeting. While concerns about ballooning the already 38 page text were realized, negotiations proceeded in a more constructive spirit and more quickly than many expected. In order to get into the more difficult work of consolidating and streamlining the text, governments were asked to make all of their requests for text additions Monday. We expect to see a new version with all those additions Tuesday, and expect negotiators to move into streamlining and consolidating after that. In the mean time, our partners are lining up supporters of the most ambitious text options, to ensure they survive that streamlining process and ultimately feature in the new global agreement.

Action outside of Geneva painted a backdrop of increasing calls to speed the transition to 100% clean energy. An estimated 8000 people took to the rainy streets of Oakland in the US on Saturday, joining what became the largest demonstration against fracking in the country’s history. 40 NGOs called on the Turkish G20 President and all G20 finance ministers to make the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies a priority when they meet Monday and Tuesday to G20 goals for the year. We’re also hearing more buzz about hundreds of demonstrations planned around the world to mark Global Divestment Day at the end of this week.

News, links & useful grist that caught our eye

We published a Geneva-focused Tree Alert over the weekend, chock-full of tools, resources, quotes and talking points that you might find useful.

Our Negotiator Tracker Federico Brocchieri walked through the details of Sunday’s discussions on the general objectives and mitigation sections of the text, while Chris Wright celebrated the day’s unusual move by developing country groups to pass on opening statements in favor of getting straight into the week’s priority tasks.

RTCC’s Megan Darby looks at the role German PM Angela Merkel could play in making or breaking a 2015 deal. The long-serving leader understands the threat posed by global warming, but her silence on the subject is deafening.

As anticipation over countries’ individual climate action commitments under the 2015 agreement rise, Joydeep Gupta writes about a 2-option approach that India may take: what it’s willing to do with its own resources, and what its willing to do with additional finance and cheap technology transfers from developed countries.

China, having realized significant co-benefits of climate action from its “war on pollution,” is moving ahead regardless of developing country support. Recent steps to cut fossil fuels helped five more of the country’s major cities meet air standards in 2014; and government officials just announced plans to roll out the first stages of a national carbon market in 2016.

Resources

While we linked to a few highlights above, you can see more of Geneva’s more play-by-play updates and dig into the issues through the lens of Adopt a Negotiator’s trackers on the ground.

Our friends at the Climate Action Network International are publishing daily ECO newsletters laying out their case to negotiators.

IISD’s reporting service is publish daily summaries and photos here.

The hashtags to track are #UNFCCC and #ADP2015. We’ll join the conversation via @tcktcktck and @adoptnegotiator.

We’ll also keep you abreast of developments in the wider world of climate activism and action at tcktcktck.org and publish related communications briefs at treealerts.org.

Joshua Wiese

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