Wednesday, December 12, 2007

COP 13 Blog Tuesday 11.12.2007

REDD Contact Ends

The day for REDD got of to a bumpy start as one of TFG’s trees failed and collapsed; perhaps another symbol of the onslaught of deforestation here in Indonesia. But inside the Bali International Convention Center (BICC) the masses seemed to descend upon the limited space, NGO and delegates were swarming everywhere, and by noon when the first REDD contact group was to meet, the doors to Plenary 2 were buzzing with NGO’s clamoring to get in and see where the negotiations were headed. Everyone’s hopes (and that’s all they were), were that not only would a new text be available but that the contact group would be able to finalize a text that could be sent to SBSTA.

Noon came and went, and one o’clock came and went. By two o’clock it was clear that the contact group was not going to start and that the informals were continuing. TFG managed by stealthy means to acquire the draft text that was issued in the morning. It was a significant alteration of any other draft text we had seen, but surprisingly of a positive nature. The document had new language about market mechanisms, and it had an annex that listed nearly a dozen guidance points related to pilot projects. These aspects were a real breakthrough! Not only were there now references to national baselines, but also to something that was much closer to early action and of course the potential market mechanisms could all provide some of the much needed signal that the markets required in relation to forestry and offset credits.

A second Contact Group was scheduled for the evening and to everyone’s surprise it was convened. In the early moments of the meetings it seemed as if there had been an enormous amount of convergence and that a consensus was imminent. Nonetheless India’s intervention of requesting even more language about forest conservation appeared to be upsetting the delicate balance that had been achieved. Although Brazil had already conceded to language about market mechanisms, it was willing to go along with the changes, as was China and Japan despite the fact that “the issue of forest management (was being) fused into REDD.” And then in an apparent power move, Papua New Guinea introduced new early action text and new brackets that threw everyone for a final loop… Panama intervened with a novel solution and the Chair-persons realizing that an impasse had been reached put the meeting on hold so that the delegates could have a “five minute” consultation period. Five minutes turned into ten and then fifteen. When the meeting was called back to order it appeared that the crisis had been solved. But New Zealand continued to have problems and PNG was unwilling to conceded its issues, and then it happened. The US pulled its classic maneuver of throwing the whole effort into chaos by bracketing two entire paragraphs that were key to the support of India on forest management issues. Because the time for the contact group had ended, the Chair had no choice but to close the meeting and refer the bracketed text to SBSTA.

Late that night at SBSTA, with plenary largely empty and only tired delegates around, the US hijacked the process again and forced the bracketed text to the COP for a final decision. It was now out of the hands of the REDD negotiators and SBSTA and up to the high level negotiators for a final decision. The matter as it stands is up in the air and will not be openly discussed until Friday at the final COP meetings. We can only hope that REDD is not lost until next year and still becomes a part of the Bali Roadmap.

Will all contact with REDD be lost forever? Will politics and good sense prevail? Stay tuned to see how it all plays out!

Bali Walp, signing off…

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