The Night Shift

by nathan thanki

The minarets are blaring. A prayer might be all we have left. It's 5am on Saturday morning and a rag-tag bunch of rabble rousers are scattered across various benches in a temporary tent-come-food-court that we've named "westaurant." 

It's been a long night – one of frustration, confusion, and every negotiating tactic under the sun (or moon!)

The details of what was said, when, can be found with a quick excavation of our twitter feed. But basically, the Long Term Cooperative Action working group (LCA) met, only for the Saudi chair to immediately send the document through for consideration by the COP. There were many statements from both developing countries and developed countries condemning the text. But for very different reasons. Developing countries were blocking because they see nothing in the text that represents their interests or positions. Developed countries are blocking because, as usual, they want more.

Then the Durban Platform working group (ADP) met, tried to gavel stuff through and failed. The US wanted to have language that really undermined the Convention and its principles. Not to mention the integrity of the climate system. They were, for instance, opposed to mentioning adaptation or finance as areas that need enhanced action over the next few years, and were also against the word "commitment" in relation to emissions cuts. China kept blocking the text from going through because agreement hadn't been reached on many substantial issues. A clapping war ensued at the back of the room. US negotiators were sitting among us in civil society; cheering for the EU. 

Eventually China and the EU were called to the front, heads were bashed together, and an agreement was reached. We broke, and a while later reconvened all the way across the complex in plenary 1 where were whizzed through all the technical issues of both COP and CMP. All the while, the EU and US were pulling AOSIS (small islands) and LDCs (least developed) off into small rooms with their legal teams, flexing every bullying muscle they have. 

I gave the following updates via facebook:

It's 1.30am. Nothing is moving. US and EU are blocking real progress by offering unacceptable deals. US also blocking talks on "loss and damage" even as Typhoon Bopha swings back to inflict more suffering on Philippines. We're standing with anyone who will protect our (not distant) future Stocktaking is happening at 2am. Loss and Damage is happening again at 3am. We will be there in force to hold blockers to account.

It's 4.30am. We did a protest just outside a plenary. Things will reconvene in the morning. Ministerial and closed sessions still ongoing – big fights still over the Kyoto Protocol and loss and damage. Sending support to our negotiator friends from Philippines, Venezuela, Bolivia, Pakistan and elsewhere, who are under pressure to buckle and accept a suicide deal. Philippines negotiator is missing his son's birthday for the 4th year in a row. They sent us food, so we sent his son a birthday video from Doha. There's some good left in the world. 

And as I write this, we are standing yet again behind our red lines and the red lines of our allies in the developing world. 

One thought on “The Night Shift

  1. We have been with you “in spirit” and share your frustration. You are right that we can’t wait for those “stuck-in-concrete” types to die off, and when they are ones ruling world, maybe we need to not only confront them but also learn from master politician, Abraham Lincoln. Having seen LINCOLN film twice in past week, I’m struck by how getting to TRUE NORTH compass point sometimes means going around swamps, etc. and yet his PASSION for getting there forces him and others to say and do WHATEVER it TOOK to get there, even using “dirty” politics. Terrible difficulties he faced and how he faced them a lesson for today? Be well, this holiday season. HUGS!

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