Silence, sincerity and snacking
After the first week of actions and media work, and with the majority of Young FoEE either leaving or already gone, my main Young FoEE responsibilities ended and I was thrown abruptly into the world of policy. The day began with the FoEI meeting, where the policy experts discussed the daily agenda and brought updates from the previous day to the table.
Outside the conference venue - the Maritim Hotel - a collection of organisations, three trees and a number of dancers where protesting against deforestation, with a minute’s silence held for the Peruvians who lost their lives in the protests against free trade agreements and encroachment of industry on land in the Amazon.
This was mirrored by a minute of silence in the plenary halls for the Belarusian delegate, who, on Saturday afternoon, had collapsed and died on the very sofas in the Maritim foyer that would be filled with revellers the same night.
I spent the day trying to catch up on everything that had been happening behind the doors of the Maritim halls, harassing as many colleagues as possible. The general feeling was still one of frustration; the talks do not appear to be going well. Rich industrialised countries are still failing to put forward sufficient emissions reduction targets, with Japan failing to put forward any at all, and offsetting and other false solutions still feature prominently. But, there are glimmers of hope, with progress in REDD, and Bolivia, Paraguay and El Salvador pushing on FoEI’s behalf; using the FoEI language.
There was an interesting development in the Kyoto Protocol Working Group: the Micronesian delegate called for 45% emissions reductions by 2020, which would mean keeping carbon dioxide below 350 ppm (parts per million), keeping global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees, but in essence ensuring survival for many of the islands in this area of the South Pacific.
She compared the EU’s target of 30% reductions to the equivalent of playing Russian roulette with their lives. It struck me as profound that with so many climate change sceptics out there, here inside the walls of a rather modern, shiny but bland hotel next to a motorway in Bonn, an entire subregion of Oceania was battling to keep their tropical islands above water.
Further policy discussions with colleagues continued in the Maritim restaurant, where we were forced to eat expensive salads due to the lack of options. It was either an intentional decision by the UNFCCC to only provide expensive food within the Maritim so as to starve out NGO workers, or it was subtle ploy to make sure everyone went to side events – where food was provided.
Needless to say we fell for it, and found ourselves at the Copenhagen Climate Treaty side event, where the NGO community were putting forward their proposal for a Copenhagen agreement. I found myself struggling to keep up with the figures, and was relieved at the comic interlude when the speakers introduced a new acronym, LCAP (Low Carbon Action Plan), bringing the total in the document to 82. In general it seemed a decent proposal, but more discussion and analysis is needed to find where it coincides and clashes with FoEI policy.
More comments to come. With the Q&A over, we left our seats, and dived into the snacks...