Raising Expectations: An analyst’s first days at COP15

Standing in line to go through security I try to estimate the number of days participants have been at the Bella Center by how tired they look. As I rush through halls, stands, and giant balloons to get to our second side event, I can’t help feeling electrified by the people around me. Most people are buzzing with energy, going in and out of meeting rooms, getting an extra cup of coffee, or dressing up to draw attention to their cause.

After another successful CCAP side event at the EU Pavilion I head to our booth for a quick stop. I notice Tom Polzin, CCAP Research Assistant, explaining our work to surrounding inquisitive onlookers. After he is done with his pitch, I convince Tom to head to the Tycho Brahe room where the plenary of the Conference of the Parties acting as the Meeting of the Parties is in session, to see if Tuvalu continued to back its proposal to a broad amend of the Kyoto Protocol. Even if it was expected, it was captivating to see a tiny country stir up debate and cause strong reactions from giants like China, which vowed to discuss only amendments to the emission reductions from Annex 1 countries. After both countries expressed their positions, other countries started to align behind them. AOSIS and African states backing Tuvalu and India and Brazil for China. In an effort to reach consensus the president of the COP, Connie Hedegaard, asked countries representing different negotiating coalitions to a “10 minute meeting in the corner.” Twenty minutes later, she announced that no consensus was reached and that the CMP would be adjourned until Saturday.

After a fleeting moment of disappointment, expectation surged to a new level. Countries had picked sides, a line had been drawn. Will there be an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol? This would clearly be legally binding only to Kyoto Protocol parties, which does not include the United States. Would Tuvalu’s second part of its proposal for a New Protocol under the Convention to include the US succeed? The questions hang in mid air, run around in rumors and bounce from the walls of the gigantic conference center. The details will become clearer as negotiations progress and move to a higher level. The stage is being built for presidents and prime ministers to make a decision next week.

As we exit the plenary session, Tom and I part ways to follow issues we are specifically interested in. I have filled my day with side events that involve discussions with the private sector. Would they also share the level of expectation NGOs and Parties have?

The third and last side event of the day is over, my mind is filled with dilemmas, ideas, questions and doubts. I have been at the Bella Center for 12 hours now. I sit down with yet another cup of coffee to write and decide to leave the private sector for another day, when my mind is settled.

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