November 8, 2006
The past couple of days have seen the conference off to a frenzied start as participants and delegates struggle to get over jet lag, orient themselves, and figure out internet and telephones. Right now, I’ve found one of the most reliable internet connections: in the press room of the conference grounds, although I’m technically not allowed here since I’m not officially accredited with the press.
Yesterday, I thought I had a working cell phone, but decided something was wrong when the phone never ever rang and I could never get through to people. As it turns out, absolutely no phone calls were getting through so I had to make a mad dash to the store and get a new one. Hopefully this one will hold up for the next two weeks of the conference.
The Climate Action Network International meeting place is about a ten-minute walk from the actual conference centre. We have to leave the compound on which the conference is located and meet in a building located on the other side of the fence.
Many of important issues will be addressed during this COP. For a general overview of the issues and background of the negotiations, I suggest "A planetary citizens’ guide to global climate negotiations." It gives a good overview of the history of negotiations and of what’s at stake here in Nairobi.
Today Canada took a lot of heat over its regressive stance on climate change - Canada was awarded the Fossil of the Day award for misrepresenting commitments to reduce its emissions by 45% to 65% by 2050 without stating the fact that these reductions are based on a 2003 base year and not 1990. Given that this is a forum for negotiations with a baseline year of 1990, it is likely that all the delegates in the room understood that 45-65% reductions meant below 1990 levels.
Canada, along with the US and Australia, were denounced in the ECO for shamelessly calling on countries like China, India and Brazil to take on commitments, while they themselves have spurned their own responsibilities.
Furthermore, Climate Action Network Canada made an intervention under the Ad Hoc working group for article 3.9 stating that:
It must be said that the current lack of demonstrable progress of some countries tends to undermine faith in this process. There is a clear need to build confidence by Annex 1 showing renewed leadership. Those whose good faith is no longer clear - and I name Canada here, as its present government has walked away from its Kyoto obligations - must revisit their positions for the common good of humanity and the planet. Those who seek to lead must do so: the time has come for the European Union to come out into the open and talk the talk and walk the walk, and do this well before Finnish Saunas become a place to go and cool down from the mid summer heat.
Sierra Club of Canada is indeed concerned about Canada’s position in these negotiations. We are worried that they will take a hard line and push for developing countries to adopt fixed targets. This is a very hard line for Canada given that they have reneged on their targets. Furthermore, we are concerned that Canada does not recognize the urgency of the situation and could favour timelines that do not correspond to the need for urgent action.
Emilie Moorhouse is Sierra Club of Canada's Atmosphere and Energy