Day 11 – Breaking news from COP17

By Tierney Smith, John Parnell and Ed King
RTCC in Durban

Welcome to Responding to Climate Change’s live coverage of COP17 in Durban. Our team of Ed King, John Parnell and Tierney Smith will keep you updated on the talks as the high level segment continues into its final day.

You can contact our team in Durban via email or through Twitter. Check our interviews at the #UNFCCC Climate Change Studio for the latest analysis from delegates, diplomats and ministers.


2245 (GMT+2)

We’ll be back in a few hours. UN sources tell me a document will be on the UNFCCC website at 1am, outlining the key areas of negotiations, with a Plenary at around 8am.

Situation at 2220 (GMT+2)

-Plenary is suspended while drafts of new text are worked on
-EU pushing for 2015 date for agreement on a binding deal. Enforced in 2020.
-Bolivian negotiators tell RTCC current proposals will ‘kill Kyoto’
-General elements of Green Climate Fund & Technology Mechanism agreed on, but specific financing areas sketchy
-E3G, ActionAid, Brazil & Bolivian delegates tell RTCC situation will be LIVE in morning

**If we have any other substantial developments we’ll let you know.

2155 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_edking General consensus deals are being worked on and will be until the small hours….some party delegates are already having a few beers. American delegate to my left openly wondered whether she ‘should be doing something’. Clearly not a fan of the recent IEA report.

The legal teams are probably the ones enjoying the copious amounts of pizza and coke that are being shipped in here tonight. An urgent atmosphere of a few hours ago, sparked by the protests led by Greenpeace, has been replaced by an uneasy calm…as you can see from the pic below the main plenary is empty. Ilana Solomon @actionaid tells us the paperwork is being disseminated, and that announcements will take place in the morning. We’ll stick around for a few more hours and see if anything is cooking.

2041 (GMT+2)

**You can watch the Plenary live here via the UNFCCC website

2039 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_edking is off for a wander, a coffee, a free bagel and to see who else we can speak to. If there is anyone! Darkness has descended on Durban and there’s a spot of drizzle in the air too – but there are still huddles of delegates outside in the ICC grounds. Updates from @rtcc_tierney and @rtcc_john to come

2025 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_edking Just had chat with Nick Mabey from E3G for Climate Change TV. Very strong connections with senior UK delegates so has a good idea of what’s cooking – his thoughts in brief:

-Text on table, but down to a few small words…that will determine whether we head to 2C or 4C
-Big argument is about legal form of any treaty going forward and when this will happen
-Finance, technology and adaptation are generally agreed, main issue on Green Climate Fund is where it will be based
-EU backed by most vulnerable states and most of Africa pushing for comprehensive Treaty
-Any blame should be pinned on some members of US aiming to ‘kill Kyoto’
-UK, Germany, Poland and EU Commission involved in intensive efforts reaching out – calls between capitals and out of plenary meetings are upping ante
-Deal could be in small hours – probably 4-5am, but could be midday before announcement

1915 (GMT+2)

Weary Brazil delegate just sat down next to us and rolled his eyes. ‘5am’ he said. I guess you don’t really need to add much more.

1855 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_edking Climate Action Network press conference – suggestions that World Bank is trying to take control of Green Climate Fund – not a popular move in many states who already feel that institution has too much influence.

1835 (GMT+2)

He adds the document is a synthesis presented by the President of the COP – SA Minister Mashabane. As @rtcc_john has just pointed out, the EU proposals were along a similar line – although given it has been taken up by the head of the COP is clearly significant. Watch the full video here:

1825 (GMT+2)

More from Rene: “…the legal framework established the principle of common but differentiated responsibility – the principle that adaptation and mitigation has to be done in a context of financing by developed countries. the other problem – and the WORST is that this new legal document or instrument is going to be the basis for the climate regime of the world – and it is going to be written or done after 2020. It doesn’t specify if it will be 2020, or 2022, 2023 or 2024…what is the problem…as you know – the Kyoto Protocol is in the process of being killed by those who don’t like the Kyoto Protocol.”

1820 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_edking Chief Bolivian negotiator – Rene Gonzalo Orellana Halkyer told us:

‘In the last few minutes we were expecting a document to synthesise the discussions we have had in the past few weeks…we have received 2 documents. Two documents that are very very dangerous….dangerous because we have been saying for the past two weeks that we have to work all the frameworks we have been discussing – under the Convention of Climate Change. The Convention of Climate Change is some kind of constitution of climate change of the world. Suddenly it begins to be in a process of disappear, and the document clearly says that it is going to open a discussion about a new legal instrument NOT under the convention. But nobody knows under what? The first problem we have, the biggest problem is that we are making disappear the legal framework…’

1805 (GMT+2)

A storm always follows a lull. RTCC’s Daniel Schweimler received a call to interview the chief Bolivian negotiator – Rene Gonzalo Orellana Halkyer let rip against what he sees as an attempt to kill the Kyoto Protocol. More shortly…

1635 (GMT+2)

A lull has descended on proceedings here. We’re off to have a coffee and speak to some contacts. Rumours the conference could be extended by a day (!). A small price for the planet. Quite a large one for 20,000 hotel and flight bookings. Am told a decision will be made at 6.

1615  (GMT+2)

Some video of this afternoon’s protest for you…#Greenpeace exec dir Kumi Naidoo has just been escorted out of the building by police…in handcuffs.

1610 (GMT+2)

Chinese press conference latest to be cancelled…something of a recurring theme. Although as @rtcc_john: points out this can often mean progress is afoot behind closed doors

1550 (GMT+2)

Head of the protest (who is from the Maldives) has met Minister in Plenary – not sure who – for a discussion. Underlined the protestor’s belief that there can be no compromise on climate. Has returned to pass on message. Police now beefed up with 70 local security bods. In lovely blue sleeveless jumpers. Now singing ‘Don’t let us down’.

1530 (GMT+2)

This ones in for the long haul. UN Police have now extended perimeter but crowd now seems determined to move forward to the Plenary – clapping and shouting is getting louder ‘save the united nations’. Another key theme appears to be ‘no carbon markets’….illustrating the divisive nature of these talks, especially when the private and public sectors meet.

1520 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_edking Slight delay in updates – I’ve just been trapped in a protest. The ICC has been flashmobbed by around 150 protestors singing the South African National anthem and ‘climate justice now’

UN Police have moved in to block them off – but not stopping the singing. Must be as many press, photographers and cameramen with them….apparently led by a Maldives group. Currently they are kettled (UK parlance for trapped) 100m from the main Plenary room. Interested delegates are taking pics…

1440 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_tierney: The Canadian Youth delegation has made a final warning to their government that they will be returning home and “working with their communities to do whatever needs to be done” even if that meant stepping outside of the system and promising they would build a very large youth climate movement.

They said: “If we can force them before another election then we will but if not we will just vote it out.”

In their final press conference of COP17 – dressed in their delegation uniforms – they said that while the Canadian government had made moves towards the idea of conversations of global discussions post 2015, the yesterday approved a new Tar Sands mine for Canada.

They said: “The Canadian government are talking green but walking dirty.”

1432 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_tierney: Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists said the move by the EU, LDCs and AOSIS was a positive sign. He said that COPs have “never seen progress without a coalition to get action.”

However he warned that the conference now needed to see much more ambition and more than was already on the table. To prevent dangerous warming, he warned, there needed to be an extension to the Kyoto Protocol – with limited loopholes – a Durban roadmap towards a new legally binding agreement by 2015, an aggressive work plan to boost ambition and close the emissions gap and progress on finance to help the developing world develop low carbon technology, protect their forestry and adapt to climate effects.

1424 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_john: COP17 Presidency has just held its news conference. Minister Mashabane was visibly tired (and perhaps a little grouchy), understandable perhaps given that they were negotiating till after 4am. She explained that the Presidency has sought to maintain transparency within the process, which has drawn out the talks.

1411 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_tierney: Sticking with the EU, Jason Anderson from WWF voiced concerns in Climate Action International’s final daily briefing that internal disagreements could stand in the way of them showing leadership over the coming hours. Most worrying was the disagreement over the Kyoto Protocol and whether the countries should commit to a second period.

He said: “If the EU doesn’t resolve the issue of Kyoto Protocol Two the decision could be taken out of their hands which would be terrible as they are one of the major players in its continuation.”

1405 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_tierney: …And on the EU Asad Rehman from Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland said that while the deal between the EU, the Least Developed Countries and AOSIS showed signs of ambitious action and were “strong on sentiment” they would also have to deliver.

He criticised the EU for lack of ambition – sticking with a 20% reduction target they had already met with very little action, and a reliance on emissions trading which he says could leave them with no net emissions reductions.

1357 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_tierney: Karen Orenstein from Friends of the Earth US said that while everything remains unclear at the present time, the devil will be in the details as they emerge. While countries are beginning to move and talk of COP17 outcomes she said: “Currently developed countries have not supposed or supported anything to get us where we need to be – to stop the world from frying essentially.”

She voiced concerns that countries were moving the goalposts away from what was agreed under the Bali Roadmap and said the developed world was responsible for the dysfunction currently being witnessed at the talks.

1335 (GMT +2)

@rtccnewswire: DR Congo Minister for Forest Economy Jean Ping has said, “Africa came to Durban in closed ranks. Had we come on an individual country basis, no one would have heard us”.

1300 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_tierney: Hareet Singh from ActionAid International says more needs to be done to secure innovative forms of financing for the Green Climate Fund – to ensure the fund does not become an empty shell with no finance as these are concrete methods which have not been discussed in depth.

Singh said ministers must now be brought into the discussion and that a decision of aviation and shipping could be agreed over the coming hours and a working plan must then be agreed to include other innovative forms of funding by COP18 next year. These funding options include the likes of a Financial Transaction Tax which has been discussed over the last two weeks.

1230 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_john heading off to US presser – if it’s still on! Will keep you updated. Situation appears very fragmented now with host of smaller meetings ongoing across ICC.

1150 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_john Statement from @AfDB_Group “Africa has waited too long for a deal and cannot afford to wait any longer” Clock is @tcktcktck -ing #cop17

1116 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_tierney: Just caught the end of the NGO speeches in the plenary session…

Ms. Martine Visser University of Cape Town, on behalf of research and independent non-governmental organizations said that RINGOs recommend collaboration between educational institutions particularly in the developing world and calls on countries to remember the commitment they have made which include climate change education.

Ms. Eunice Warue from GenderCC -Women for Climate Justice, on behalf of women and gender non-governmental organizations said that by “not taking meaningful action the lives of women, men and children will be put at risk”. She also said putting gender sensitive language into the convention would be useless unless a strong deal was made to prevent climate change.

Ms Anjali Appaduri spoke on behalf of YOUNGO. In her address she pointed out that she speaks for more than half of the population – the world’s silent majority and asked the plenary what it would take to get a stake at the talks?

She accused countries of negotiating for her entire lifetime without having a deal – “a lifetime filled with broken promises” – and reminded the room of the IEA’s warning that we have five years left to prevent dangerous climate change, while some countries are still asking for ten. She called on the parties to stand with Africa and not to betray the young generation.

Finally she said 2011 would be the year the silent majority found their voice and quoting Mandela she said: “It always seems impossible until it is done…Deep cuts now…get it done.”

At this point a collective shout for climate justice erupted from the back of the hall. Both the speech and the call were warmly received by the hall and the chairman who asked why the majority were not given an opportunity to talk at the beginning rather than the end.

The conference session has now closed.

1101 (GMT+2)

Key paragraph of the EU, AOSIS and LDC statement is this: We need firm and clear decisions mapping out next steps that deliver the ambition we need. This includes agreeing an amendment of the Kyoto Protocol for the second commitment period together with a robust mandate and roadmap for a legally binding instrument. Under this instrument, all parties to the UNFCCC need to commit, respecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities.

1059 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_edking Following on from John’s reports at the EU press conference here’s a link to the full statement from EU, LDC and AOSIS…

1052 (GMT+2)

His Holiness Shri Shri 1008 Soham Baba is on his way for his second interview at the Climate Change TV studio. You can see the first here. Spirituality and the Kyoto Protocol. An unlikely mix.

1050 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_john Last word from Hedegaard: If there is no movement from last night by big countries that haven’t committed, there’s no deal

1030 (GMT+2)

Some big news in last half hour from @rtcc_john in EU Press Conference. BREAKING: EU Climate chief Connie Hedegaard “A deal on 2nd #kyoto period is in reach”

More from Hedegaard, “Brazil and South Africa said at midnight, they will be happy to commit to a global deal from 2020”

1010 (GMT+2)

COP17 final session is underway (if it ever really closed last night) You can watch live coverage of the COP17 Plenary session on the UNFCCC website.

1004 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_tierney: Countries heading back into discussion on the GCF, following rumours the interim secretariat of the Fund will be based at the Global Environment Facility in Washington D.C, a decision which was fought for by the US negotiators but not welcomed by the developing world.

The key question is how much finance will be pledged for the fund. While Least Developed countries have urged for $30 billion to be put into the fund, announcements so far-  from only Germany and Denmark – fall far short of this. While not quite an empty shell this is not the concrete source countries were aiming for. More countries are expected to make pledges today.

Meanwhile Oxfam say there must be some assurance of a pathway to fully filling the fund by 2020.

They also say another critical question today is whether new deeper emission reduction targets are agreed and will apply within the time frame set by science to avoid climate catastrophe? The US has felt the vocal pushback on the ten-year timeout they pushed from the start of the negotiations, but they still have not recognized the need for new deeper targets before 2020.

Oxfam policy advisor, Kelly Dent said: “The grains of sand in the hourglass are seeping away but levels of ambition cannot be allowed to follow suit. Governments must not seal the fate of the world’s poorest people with half-hearted attempts at action. Millions of lives are already being devastated by climate change, poor people on the front lines of this crisis need real, ambitious action to be delivered without delay.”

0952 (GMT+2)

The main plenary resumes at 10am this morning – the halls of the Conference centre are now full of delegates, some in small groups talking in hushed tones, others barging past holding stacks of papers, and yet more doing nothing….as if it was a clear summer’s day in Durban and they had not a care in the world. @rtcc_john is off to the EU presser shortly and will keep us up to date with developments there. Check the Twitter feed at the bottom of this page for latest reports.

0950 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_edking Interviewing Norwegian negotiating team at 1.15pm – no news on who as of yet. Any questions for them (bar the obvious) send me a Tweet.

0945 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_john I’m hearing that Developing countries not happy with DC & will talk more in 35 mins. Developed world wants GCF in a “global env”.

Meanwhile BBC’s Richard Black says that Oxfam understand Green Climate Fund will be based in Washington. How on earth have the US managed that….?!

0925 (GMT+2)

RECAP: As we reported last night it looks likely the Green Climate Fund will be signed off. Parties agreed on paragraphs regarding host country selection process and other legal aspects. It appears a main sticking point could be whether Mexico or Germany get to host the Secretariat….!

0921 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_john is prowling the corridors of the ICC. He reports: “Crunch time in #durban. ICC Monitors demand for meeting rooms has exceeded supply, please consider holding meetings in cafes and lounges”

0902 (GMT+2)

If anyone sees @rtcc_john please tell him the hotel have his passport. He’s clearly so committed on reporting for us he’s ditched all his other worldly belongings.

0845 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_edking Durban’s Mercury Newspaper is reporting the city is bidding to host the Top Gear Festival for the next three years. Jeremy Clarkson et al. Clearly moving on quickly from their green fortnight.

0800 (GMT+2)

@rtcc_edking Good morning from Durban. Fewer people seem to be in and around the ICC today – maybe they’re sleeping off last night’s negotiations. As the Brazilian climate Ambassador predicted at his press conference last night – the talking went on into the early hours. The EU, AOSIS and LDC – that’s European Union, Association of Small island States and Lesser Developed Countries – released a statement demanding a global deal and urging other to join.

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