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Alright Maybe Not

25 Aug

So after our biggest contributors graduated and moved on out of our organization, I turned to our new leaders to join the blog and contribute. Over the course of three months I finally managed to drag a few people on board but even so the output has been zilch. I guess people just aren’t so enthusiastic about writing these days.

So my statement earlier that this blog would become active once again – false.

In the meantime we shall wait and see if anything happens. Otherwise, I expect this place to close soon enough.


Canadian Delegation Orders Youth to Tear Down Oil Sands Display at Climate Negotiations

10 Dec

This is quite disturbing. Our UWSP delegation was not involved in this and as far as I know, none of us even had the chance to SEE this display at the conference because it was so short lived. this is directly quoted from the Sierra Club Canada blog “Climate Crisis – Countdown to Copenhagen”:

In a blatant attempt to cover up Canada’s dirty little secret – the Alberta Tar Sands – the official Canadian Delegation successfully filed a complaint to the UNFCCC secretariat about a photo display put on by Canadian Youth. The display featured several large photos of the Alberta tar sands project with captions describing the multitude of environmental and human health effects of the project and even went so far as to say that Alberta has a right to emit because it’s a fossil fuel producer. The photos were on display for less than one day.

This followed on the heels of a youth meeting with Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner which youth described as shocking and heartbreaking. Tears were shed as the minister refused to acknowledge the impacts of the tar sands. When an indigenous youth from Fort Smith Alberta asked his opinion of the two-jawed fish found in the Athabasca River, he replied that these things happen in nature and that there is no link to downstream effects of the mega project.

Canadian Youth Delegate Christel Hyshka had this to say, ‘‘Minister Renner tried to convince us that Alberta was a climate leader, but there is no denying that the oil sands are the fastest growing source of emissions in Canada, and that its unrestrained development will make meeting any significant greenhouse gas reduction target nearly impossible for our country. They acknowledge the risk, but are unwilling to take responsibility. Quite frankly, as an Albertan I’m embarrassed that this is a message they are bringing to the international stage”.

Canada is not acknowledging the impact of the tar sands. Sarah, Sylvie, and myself were involved in a protest yesterday regarding the tar sands in Alberta. It garnered what seemed like a fair amount of media attention (though you can’t see any of us in the photos). The CBC was there to pick it up. 

Sierra Club Blog Post: 

CBC Article: (I’ll warn you now that the comments from Canadians pretty much show exactly why our Country isn’t backing down)

How Long Does it Take to Edit one Paragraph?

8 Dec

I just sat in on a portion of the Ad-Hoc Working Group for the Kyoto Protocol meeting  on potential consequences of the Kyoto Accord. Allow me to illustrate the content of the past 45 minutes of my life.

The chair of this meeting intended to discuss consequences. Immediately Sweden proposed (with the backing on a number of other countries) that the text from the last meeting be read again before getting to any talk of consequences.  Paragraphs 1 to 3 were skimmed very quickly, paragraph 4 on the other hand, was a different story. It read like this:

The AWG-KP further noted that [striving to minimize] [minimizing] the adverse impacts of mitigation actions is a common concern of both developing and developed countries. It reiterated that there could be both positive and negative consequences of mitigation actions and agreed that [its work on this issue should focus on minimizing negative potential consequences for Parties] [[attention] [a core aspect of the work] should be paid to [minimizing] [how to minimize] potential negative consequences for developing countries.] The AWG-KP further noted that the work on potential consequences will need:

  1. To support and complement efforts to mitigate climate change;
  2. To benefit from experiences of Parties and lessons learned;
  3. [To take into consideration the role of national [climate] policies and measures in terms of potential adverse social, environmental and economic impacts on other Parties, especially on developing country Parties];
  4. [To [blanace the consideration of] [consider both] negative and positive potential consequences].

(Document FCCC/KP/AWG/2009/12/Rev.2 16 November 2009 – Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex 1 Parties Under the Kyoto Protocol, Tenth Session Copenhagen, 7-15 December 2009, Item 3 of the provisional agenda)

After back and forth suggestions from Sweden (to condense the text) and South Africa (To not let anything important get cut), the 45 minutes ended with more bracketed options, and South Africa’s point of placing brackets around the entire paragraph as they stated that they would like to remove all original text and rewrite the paragraph. Needless to say, I did not stay for the discussion of the following paragraphs. I wonder how the Kyoto accord was ever written? From my experience today, it seems as though countries will bicker about whether they should THINK about doing things or ACTUALLY do things  for ever with the only conclusive result being that there is no conclusive result. I sincerely hope that I am proven wrong.

So far, from what I’ve seen at COP today, things are moving slowly, if they’re even moving at all, and with regards to the above mentioned group, things are moving backwards. I’ll end with a poll.

Emission Reduction Targets put forward by Annex 1 Countries

8 Dec

Based on updates from today’s Adhoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) meeting, Annex 1 countries have put forward the following emission reduction objectives:

Party % Reduction by 2020 Baseline Year
Australia 5-15 2000
Belarus 5-10 1990
Canada 20 2006
Croatia 6% INCREASE! 1990
European Community 20-30 1990
Iceland 15 1990
Japan 25 1900
Kazakhstan 15 1992
Lietchtenstein 20-30 1990
Monaco 20 1990
New Zealand 10-20 1990
Norway 30-40 1990
Russian Federation 20-25 1990
Switzerland 20-30 1990
Ukraine 20 1990

Note: Croatia’s target is not a reduction!

Also note: Australia, Canada and Kazakhstan are the only countries that do not use 1990 as a baseline. One of the outcomes of COP15 is to determine is a baseline of 1990 should be legally mandatory.

AWG – LCA Opening Plenary

7 Dec

At COP15, the AWG-LCA plans to complete work on 3 main topics:

  • financial capacity building
  • actions items, primarily adaptation and mitigation
  • a shared vision

The opening plenary provided the opportunity for different nation groups to voice their opinions on the work planned for the conference. Sudan, on behalf of the G77 and China, called for immediate implementation of finanacing and resources  for adaptation and mitigation by developing countries and want to see an open and transparent process. This message was supported by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group. AOSIS however, made it clear that they will not accept any agreement that is hinged on only short term funding.  Australia, on behalf of the Umbrella Group (this includes Canada) claimed they were prepared to set legally binding targets in Copenhagen (I hope this is in fact true). They also committ to providing $10 billion a year to developing countries (especially those of the LDC group) in order for them to continue growing in a sustainable manner. Sweden, on behalf of the EU and member countries, spoke of an effective agreement with real numbers including an emission reduction target of 30% by 2020 based on 1990 levels and to cut deforestation by 50% by 2020 and net zero by 2030. They also suggested that all countries help to provide funding with the exception of the LDC group.  This group was the only one to put forward a number of measurable targets to curb climate change. Switzerland, on behalf of the Environmental Integrity Group, outlined a few financing mechanisms that they were ready to develop on order to support developing nations. Algeria, on behalf of the Africa Group, was very specific that they want a new agreement, not sections of the Kyoto Accord copied, pasted and renegotiated. They want to see concrete arrangements for technology transfer to developing countries and are tired of unbalanced negotiations on adaptation and finance.

We’ll see how all of this plays out over the next two weeks and strongly hope that Canada will not take home the infamous fossil award for being the country that slows down negotiations.

Trains, Bombs, and Automobiles

6 Dec

Excitement at the Bella Centre…

Two of us, I and a friend from the UofT delegation, left early to get our badges and transit passes for the conference.  As we got to the venue we were stuck outside in a crowd and the entrance and surrounding areas were cordoned off with police tape.  The conference doesn’t even start until tomorrow, and Obama doesn’t arrive until Tuesday, and yet there was a bomb squad and hyperactive dog circling the area: there was a mysterious package that arrived less than an hour before.  The security told us to wait, however since it could have meant waiting an hour in the freezing cold (and in a growing mob), we decided to hop back up onto the train. So we waited a few minutes until the train arrived, found a seat in the crowded car, and waited for the doors to close.  Nothing happened.

About five minutes later we were yelled at, in Danish, to get off the train.  Shortly after that they yelled at us all again, to the frustration of most since we pretty much all came from outside Denmark.  So, I proactively yelled “Can you speak ENGLISH”, to which the reply was “Yes I can, GET DOWNSTAIRS!”  Thus, both we and whoever came in on the transit from both directions were again added to the mob.  We still had time left to use the same ticket, and so we walked about 3km to the nearest train station and took it to the Central Station, where we’d transfer to the train that would take us to our hotel.  Of course, not only were we stuck in shelter with smokers (apparently perfectly legal in Denmark), but the train was out of service, so a five-minute wait became 20.  Needless to say, after this we had no problem paying the $30 equivalent for a cab to get to the docked ship that would be our accommodations for the next 13 days.


Day 3: COY Day two; About COP Processes

6 Dec

The Conference of youth is an organized introductory weekend for international youth to gather, hear workshops, discuss, and empower.  On the mornings of Saturday the 5 and Sunday the 6 we attended workshops related to the Conference as well as injustice issues, communications, change-making, etc.  The following is a summary of two workshops explaining what COP and YOUNGO are, as well as UNFCCC processes and relevant information.

Day 1: What are COP and YOUNGO?

-United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

-COP: Conference of Parties

-CMP: Conference Meeting of Parties (Kyoto parties; all COP parties except USA)

-There are three ways youth can get involved:

1. Intervention: youth can request an intervention be announced at a COP, CMP, AWG-KP, AWG-LCA, SBSTA, or SBI meeting

2. Action: reminder that include intergenerational cooperation important

3. Coffee Session; casual

-YOUNGO and its various teams/working groups

-Administrative (BLG, Bottom-Lining Group) to collect and redistribute information

-Plenary: open to everyone; interventions happen here, main groups have been displaced due to a prejudice

-Contact Groups: closed to media, open to everyone else

-Informal groups: closed to everyone except governmental organizations

-KlimaForum: by Danish government as an educational substitute to the convention

Day 2: UNFCCC Processes

The Framework Convention is simply a “Framework”, an empty box, which was meant to be filled by the Kyoto Protocol (KP).  In 2012 the first commitment period of the KP expires, although all the targets and concepts are still in force; there is no expiry date for the KP as a whole!  Before anything in international law can come into effect it must be ratified: while a nation’s leader/representative can sign onto a committment, once he/she brings it back home it can be ratified or not (accepted or rejected) by parliament, congress, or other elected representatives.

The UNFCCC has many articles, the most important of which are Articles 2, 3, 4, and 5.  Article 2 deals with overall and specific objectives and definition within these objectives (the overarching goal being the prevention of dangerous anthropogenic interferences with the climate system.  Article 3 describes principles of the Convention, such as the precautionary approach, sustainable development, rights of future generations, international cooperation, and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR; measured by historical responsibility and respective capacity). Sections 4 and 5 deal with commitments and education respectively.

The Kyoto Protocol contains key provisions in its articles, and is concerned with 6 greenhouse gases.  It was signed in 1997 but not enforceable until 2005.  The reason for this gap is that no country wants to be the first (and possibly only) country to ratify an agreement that so far no one else will.  In the case of the KP, the European Union initially refused to ratify it, and other nation states also refused.  Finally the EU convinced Russia to ratify the KP in 2004, which then resulted in other nations following suit and the official enforcement year of 2005.

Flexibility mechanisms exist to mitigate market imbalances.  For example, China might be able to make improvements to its coal/energy plants quite cheaply in order to improve them 10%.  However Sweden, which currently has relatively clean energy production plants because most of the cheaper improvements have already been made, would have to pay much more in order to improve their production by the same 10%.  This is partly why there are differentiated responsibilities.  Flexibility mechanisms include Emissions Trading (ETS, between regional carbon markets), the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM, for projects in developing nations – ask Zack or Julia for more information), and Joint Implementation (JI, for projects in another developed country).

The institutions involved in the UNFCCC include COP and CMP, the Secretariat (which is  facilitator that has no real negotiating power), and Subsidiary Bodies (the Subsidiary Body for Implementation, SBI, and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice, SBSTA).  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF, which is under the umbrella of the finance-run World Bank), are not official parts of the UNFCCC.

The Bali Roadmap outlines the building blocks to successful negotiations, which include mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer, and finance.


-Annex 1: Developed nations (EU, Umbrella/usual, and Japan/USA/Canada/Norway/New Zealand – JUSCANNZ)

-Non-annex 1: Developing nations (China, Least Developed Countries – LDCs, OPEC – oils exporters, and Small Island States – AOSIS SIDS; often includes the environmental integrity group)

OBSERVERS:  Other states, international organizations civil societies, and press

There were also two other workshops on climate injustice and on organizing fr power, but these were less relevant and not nearly as substantial.  So, that’s pretty well a summary of all UNFCCC items from my COY experience!