Climate Weekly: Fiji fires COP23 chief diplomat

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Nazhat Shameem Khan has been ousted as Fiji chief negotiator and COP23 president (Pic: Flickr/UNClimateChange)


On Tuesday, Fiji’s chief climate negotiator was enthusiastically promoting the “talanoa dialogue” on twitter – a massive engagement drive to close the gap between ambition and action on tackling climate change.

On Wednesday, Nazhat Shameem Khan was abruptly fired from the role by her government, with no explanation. Her replacement, Luke Daunivalu, “has the necessary teamwork skills to maximise the chances of the talanoa dialogue succeeding,” according to a letter to CHN from the prime minister Frank Bainimarama.

So what does it mean to be a team player in Fiji’s presidency of the COP23 climate talks? Climate Home News is working on the inside story. Watch this space.

Road to Songdo

When 195 countries adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015, chair Laurent Fabius judiciously ignored Paul Oquist waving Nicaragua’s nameplate as he brought the gavel down.

After the deal was done, Oquist was allowed to register his token objection, describing the pact as a “path to failure”. He overcame those qualms to assume co-chairmanship of the Green Climate Fund board this week. You know, a key mechanism to deliver the Paris Agreement’s finance agenda.

In a miniature replay of history, Georgia’s representative abstained from the vote in protest, but Oquist was appointed all the same. How appropriate.

Palestine stonewalled

One state that is not being offered a second chance at international cooperation is Palestine.

The Global Environment Facility (Gef) has been ignoring its environment department’s requests for routine support since 2016, letters and emails seen by Karl Mathiesen show.

As a member of the UN climate convention, Palestine is eligible for funds to help prepare its emissions inventory. But it appears the Gef will not risk alienating its biggest donor, the US, which does not recognise Palestine’s sovereignty.

In brief

UN Climate Change’s funding woes have claimed their first victim: its French language news service has been axed due to budget constraints

Rulebook battlelines

EU foreign ministers have asserted that negotiations on implementing the Paris Agreement, to be finalised in December, must create a “universal regime with rules applicable to all”.

It puts them on a collision course with emerging economies like China, who are calling for a two-tier system that gives the developing world more leeway.

Those differences were top of the agenda for an informal meeting of lead negotiators in Tokyo, Japan last week.

The deforestation Olympics?

Tokyo is due to host a much bigger event in 2020: the Olympic Games.

Campaigners were dismayed to learn the organisers got 87% of plywood for the new national stadium from at-risk southeast Asian rainforests – and could not supply any certificates to show it had been sourced sustainably.

Climate conversations

China has long been captivated by the promise of coal – Victor Seow, China Dialogue
Only one country will be to blame if the Paris climate deal fails – Joseph Curtin

Read more on: Climate politics