A 40 minute lesson

Today marked day two and it really felt like we were getting into the ‘nitty-gritty’. So, for the most part, goodbye to the cavernous plenary halls and hello to smaller rooms and smaller meetings called Contact Groups. As this is my first COP, I was really excited to see some ‘real’ work taking place in the contact group level (of course I know the real work takes place in bi & plur-laterals, late at night behind closed doors).

Contact Group at work
Contact Group at work
Late in the afternoon I sat down in one of the side halls to observe the Contact Group on Potential Consequences under the Kyoto Protocol… If you’re interested here is the link to the English version of the text the delegates are revising in this contact group http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/awg10/eng/12r02.pdf. If like me, you’ve ever wondered what actually goes on at ‘international negotiations’, this afternoon was a good introduction. At this stage the delegates are amending and trying to agree upon revisions to what is termed the “revised negotiating text” (RNT) and different contact groups have been established at previous inter-sessional meetings (meetings between annual COPs of which there have been 6 this year) to address different parts of the RNT. If you open the link above you’ll see lots of ‘bracketed text’ which indicates where delegates have yet to agree. During the session, two delegates speaking for two important blocs of countries, spent about 40 minutes debating the merits of using the phrase “striving to minimize” vs using the word “minimizing”; and then the chair decided to leave both options for another read-through and we moved onto the next line… So if you’ve ever wondered why international negotiations seem so time-consuming, now you understand!