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COP17 Daily: Monday December 5

06 December 2011
COP17 Daily: Monday December 5

All week Damian Ryan, Senior Policy Manager, The Climate Group is providing a daily round-up of the news from the second week of COP17 in Durban, as well as analysis and live tweeting.

Monday, December 5.

Week two of COP17 opened with a formal and crowded plenary session, before negotiators once again disappeared behind closed doors to finalise text for ministers later in the week.

The plenary session was convened by the chair of the main ‘Convention’ track negotiations (the process that covers all countries, including the US and China). Its purpose was to allow parties to respond to the text that the chair had released on Saturday. This lengthy document of 130 pages was a compilation of the drafts that had been developed over the first week by the 14 informal negotiating groups established to work through all core agenda items.

The chair explained that he was looking for views on how best to proceed in order to produce a balanced and robust outcome for the conference. He noted that the different elements of the paper fell into three broad categories:  i) those that could be wrapped up by tomorrow; ii) those that could be resolved in Durban by ministers; and iii) those that couldn’t be resolved in the time left, but which he believed parties could agree to continue to work on in 2012.

Encouragingly, no parties rejected the document outright, although many were quick to highlight its flaws. Excessive length was a common theme. A number of parties expressed concern that it did not accurately reflect all views. Others were concerned by the lack of ‘balance’ i.e. the relative maturity of some issues versus others where little obvious progress had been made.

The level of ambition, or rather the lack of it, was highlighted by small island developing states (SIDS), as well as by the EU. The SIDS also made a coordinated effort to underline the importance of establishing a robust ‘Review Mechanism’ for assessing mitigation progress by 2014-2015.  Developed countries noted the importance of a strong outcome on monitoring, report, and verification (MRV).

The chair closed the session noting that his plan was to release an updated amalgamation text on Wednesday morning. For ‘Convention’ negotiators this is likely to mean a number of long days and late nights.

In the Kyoto track negotiations, discussions have remained firmly behind closed doors. Interestingly, reports from officials suggest that good progress has actually been made on a number of the technical issues, for example, the rules governing forestry and land-use.

However, the big political issue – will there or won’t there be a second commitment period – hangs like a Damocles sword over the process, and by extension any technical advances that have been made.

With limited access to the negotiations proper, the huge variety of side events ensured observers were not wanting for debate on any number of climate change issues. While the quality of these events varies, they are an integral part of the COP process, helping to inform observers and negotiators alike.

Off site, the long-running COP Business Day also took place, hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBSCD).

All-in-all a fairly typical COP day in Durban.

Further reading

Damian Ryan, Senior Policy Manager, The Climate Group, is writing news and analysis throughout COP17, and providing a more in-depth post-COP Briefing after the events. Keep up to date from daily round-ups on our website and by following him on Twitter during COP17.

Our international policy teams are have also commented on key regional positions in the lead-up to Durban; read about AustraliaChina, EuropeIndia and the US.

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