REDD Recovers after Longest COP Ever!
Late Saturday night it was clear that no decision would be forthcoming that day. The word was that delegates would continue consultations at midnight and into Sunday morning. At 2:00 am it became clear that the COP would reconvene at 8:00 am on Sunday morning. Plenary was packed at 8:30 that morning but it seemed as if consultations were continuing up and through the last minute. Finally at a few minutes past nine in the morning the Indonesian Minister of the Environment and also the President of the COP caused the meeting to reconvene. TFG had heard from inside sources that China and the G77 would be blocking the proposed text but it simply did not seem feasible, given all of the other positive rumors that were circulating
With the plenary session open, India took the floor and with its first intervention it became clear that no all was well; they proposed to alter language of a key paragraph of the “roadmap document.” This language was initially supported by the EU in the spirit of compromise and then in a political maneuver that was difficult to understand at the time, China intervened further with a statement that indicated that consultations were continuing, and as such the plenary session was forced to stop. Consultations continued until after the noon hour when Plenary was again reconvened by the President of COP. And again the Chinese delegation intervened, this time immediately and forcefully stating that consultations were again still continuing. Their was no other option for the Chair but to put the meeting on hold yet again.
Finally, some time near half twelve, both the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Bi-Kee Moon and the President of Indonesia addressed the delegates in an effort to attempt to resolve the apparent deadlock. After impassioned speeches and standing ovations for both speakers, China once again had the floor and aggressively in “point of clarification,” demanded an explanation from the Secretariat as to why the COP commenced when consultations had been under way. Evo de Boer was at a near loss for words and his exasperation was obvious, taking several times to compose himself before speaking. He was only briefly able to state that the secretariat was unaware of the consultations before leaving the stage with tears in his eyes. It was clear that the quiet diplomat was not only at wits end but also keenly aware that negotiations for the roadmap might be faltering.
Nonetheless, the debate began in earnest now with India insisting on its insertion of the text in regards to developing countries qualified emission limitation and reduction objectives (QuELRO’s); which obviously had the support of China and other members of the G77. Costa Rica, proposed a slight alteration in the language in the hopes that it could help the parties reacquire the delicate balance that was going to be needed for the roadmap to succeed. There seemed to be some momentum being gained as parties reluctantly agreed to the new proposals in one fashion or another including the Philippines, Switzerland on behalf of the Environmental Integrity Group and even Saudi Arabia.
However, when Paula Debriansky, Undersecretary of State of the United States intervened, it quickly became clear that the something even greater was amiss, and when the she closed her statement with “The formulation put forward can not be accepted” the COP was stunned into silence which quickly changed to boos and hisses. The US was clear, it would not support the roadmap.
Although Japan may have been in support of the US, South Africa demanded an explanation of the US position stating that the US position was “most unwelcome” (this drew load cheers!) Speech after speech ensued attacking the US position from Brazil, Indonesia, Tuvalu and Chile. When PNG again had the floor, Kevin Conrad boldly stated that “We all came with high expectations; we left a seat for all countries, if you are not willing to lead, then get out of the way. We ask and seek your leadership, but if you are not willing to lead, please get out of the way.” This brought about a thunderous applause from all parts of the great hall. And then finally, when the speaker’s list was exhausted, the United States once again asked for the floor and conceded its position. The applause was even louder and delegates were scene to be hugging each other. A roadmap to Copenhagen in 2009 and for the future of the Convention was agreed upon at around 2:30 in the afternoon as consensus had been finally reached.
It was only a few minutes later that the agenda item 5, Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing (REDD) countries was subsequently approved. TFG delegates and other pro-forest groups were thrilled and high-fived each other! Now the real work was about to begin for the next two years, for a lot of details still needed to be worked out, but Bali had brought success not only for a future commitment period but also for tropical forests around the world. Our work at the COP was completed, and with great success.
And so ended our efforts in Bali at this historic meeting that not only laid forth a framework for future climate change negotiations, but also was a culmination of two years worth of work to bring the forestry sector back into the fold of the convention. With great happiness I can report that the future for tropical forests has never looked brighter then on this day.
For the last time then, this is Bali Walp signing off…