The COP-15 is structured something like this:
- Initial sessions are opened, according to the Bali roadmap which says that there should be two Ad-hoc Working Groups (AWGs) – one for nations already signed up to the KP (Kyoto Protocol) and one for the LCA (Long-term Cooperative Agreement). The Initial meeting is quite brief, setting up chairs and leaders for the various subgroups (the chairs/exec of the AWGs themselves have been set up and working on things for the last 2 years already).
- The subgroups then get to work discussing the language of assigned bits of the text, with nations “Parties” (within the COP=”Conference Of Parties”) able to contribute and modify bits of the text. This is the initial stages of the negotiation, with many civil servants from each country led by a chief negotiator, and eventually a minister (or two, in the UK’s case).
- Then, the subgroups report back to the AWGs, who decide on a draft to send up to the COP-MOP (MOP=”Meeting Of Parties”) which is the forum in which ministers and leaders debate and decide on the final issues.
- Last and Biggest, the Leaders and Ministers sit down and compromise on their existing policy – “filling in the brackets” – in order to come to a text that everyone can sign.
The reason for the second stage (of 1.5 weeks) is that much of the text can be determined from existing policy; sets of civil servants can sit down and bash out the structure of the text, even if the Ministers still need to give ground for compromise in certain places later, and the bits that are not “clean”, or final, are put in [square brackets].
We have reached the final phase of the conference now, where ministers (and heads of governments) arrive to look over the draft texts from the AWGs. We can learn a lot about how the negotiations are going by watching the final sessions of the AWGs; as the text is chewed over and nations put on record any remaining reservations they have. You can watch these on the UNFCCC website, this is the AWG-KP’s second, and third sessions, and this is the AWG-LCA’s second session. Be warned though, they are very long and in diplomat-speak! (and you will need to install Microsoft’s Silverlight player in order to watch them)
To save you the trouble of wading though them (running time something like 3.5 hours), I will offer my own summary of what went on.
The KP is going somewhere
China, India, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, South Africa all raised concerns about the unfinished nature of the KP as it stands, which is expected since the Leaders will need to hammer out all the tricky bits in the coming days. However, large parts of the text are apparently basically finished now, and no countries under it seems to be raising objections (this may be good or bad, since it makes it sound quite unambitious to me…)
[The LCA is still entirely bracketed]
And in addition to bracketing the entire text, there are specific sub-brackets requested by many individual nations from the USA to Sudan (who are, of course, both under the LCA together amusingly enough, since the USA didn’t sign up to Kyoto). The session was 2 hours long (it only started at 5am this morning) and I really felt sorry for the chair – the title is a quite from him! – but unfortunately without the actual text (which, since I can’t get into the Bella Centre I can’t get hold of, grr) I am at a loss to talk about who is asking for what changes. I might be able to do so by tomorrow, but today’s events will probably render the analysis useless.
Something else that was in the news:
Our friend Connie Hedegaard has resigned! I was shocked when I heard but the Danes in the IFLRY delegation (which is 100 strong, with only 7 britons) that this was already agreed way in advance; she would be president until the heads of state started to arrive (Gordon Brown arrived yesterday evening, for example), when it would be more appropriate for Lars Løkke Rasmussen (the Danish prime minister) to take over.
Either way you can watch the BBC grill her about it if you want…