Friday, 18 December 2009

One more day to go for the COP15

Hello people,

Just thought I better give you all a quick update.

It's very cold. Snow starting falling on Tuesday, and it hasn't let up much since. It's -4 with a windchill of -11.

Went to Sweden today as we've been completely locked out of the conference. They accredited 45 000 people with entry for a venue with 15 000 capacity... Welcome to the UN. Long queues, chaotic, hard to figure out what's going on. They started limiting numbers on Tuesday, with our delegation of twelve being allowed to bring in 5 people. Then today NGO numbers were limited to 1000 (allocated through constituencies - my one being YOUNGO or Youth NGO, and I don't think NZYD got any. There are nine NGO constituencies) Tomorrow they are limiting NGOs numbers to just 90 people, with 10 going to each constituency, because of the shear number of world leaders (120 to 135ish, including Mugabe) and their entourages who are going to be at the venue. So many NGOs are very unhappy. There was also a protest going on yesterday, which was my last day at the venue, where they tried to storm the building (without hope - there were so many police, and Danish police are very brutal, so we've steered well clear of them, and kept our conference badges well visible. They did manage to arrest a French Green MP, who they released once they realised who he was.)

Anyway talks don't sound like they're going too well... We'll have to see what world leaders can do when they talk tomorrow. Did the march last Saturday with about 100 000 people at it. It was an incredibly uplifting experience, and we carried the massive NZYD sail (signed by young Kiwis about what they think about climate change) the whole 3 hour walk, which gave us a great reputation - see the photo.

Other things we've done is hijacked the NZers in Copenhagen party when we presented the NZYD sail to Ministers Tim Groser and Nick Smith, and then gave a long speech that really challenged their policies (not being cute youth as they were hoping we were). There we met Simon Upton and Major Kerry Prendergast too (though she didn't react much to the speech...). We got a really long applause at the end though, even though the crowd was a mix of Kiwi NGOs, business people and delegates.

Other famous people I've seen include Desmund Tutu, Senator John Kerry, Helen Clark and almost Ban Ki-Moon (but he couldn't make his side-event due to negotiations). Also went to a Global Greens talk and saw a bunch of cool people talk including Elizabeth May (Canadian Green Party Leader) who absolutely rubbished the Canadian Government (which as of yesterday had the most Fossils of the Day, slightly ahead of the US). The current Canadian Government - which does not have majority support at all but is in power due to First Past the Post - is absolutely abysmal. She also said "Things may be better now that the US has a new administration, but unfortunately they are still the United States," to rapturous applause. Good ol' Canadians...

For the last day we will continue to send love letters to John Key, and try and get a meeting with him. Let's hope he commits to stronger targets - a conditional 10-20% by 2020 is not good enough - especially considering the strong conditions will not be met (such as other developing countries committing to stronger targets...). Plus we're trying to get the message out that the new Emissions Trading Scheme is crap - contrary to what our Government is saying, given it has no cap on emissions and thus will allow them to increase...

Anyway, it's being a crazy ride, and can tell you other things later, but should probably go. Will have to see how the final day of the talks go - which are likely to continue into Saturday before they wrap up - for better or for worse.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Fossil of the Day number one already...

New Zealand Youth Delegation

Press release

Fossil of the Day spoils youth day for young Kiwis in Copenhagen

10 December 2009

New Zealand’s first Fossil of the Day award in Copenhagen came at the worst possible time for the New Zealand Youth Delegation (NZYD) after enjoying Young and Future Generations Day. They spent their time united with global youth by supporting a joint declaration calling for strong action on climate change. They also all wore bright orange t-shirts asking “How old will you be in 2050?”

After such a positive day focused on young people and solutions to climate change it was a huge blow to hear that New Zealand received a Fossil of the Day Award,” says Zachary Dorner, a 20 year old NZYD Delegate from Wellington.

We're surprised that John Key has reaffirmed New Zealand's position of a conditional 10-20% emissions reduction target for 2020 even though he also confirmed that other countries will have to make much deeper cuts to avoid dangerous climate change and pick up the slack.”

“Although John will be 89 and in his sunset years in 2050, he should be committing New Zealand to a 40% target for his children and grandchildren.”

Over 1000 global youth are participating in the UN summit, and they used Young and Future Generations Day to focus negotiators' minds on the importance of reaching a strong deal.

Amongst all the madness and complexity of the UN, there's one striking contrast. The young people here seem to get down and work together in a positive manner to achieve things for the greater good.”

On the other hand, it seems some developed countries like New Zealand are dragging their heels, trying to get the most out of the talks for themselves.”

It'd be great to put young people in charge to see what we could come up with. After all, if the world doesn't take strong action in Copenhagen, it will fall on our generation to clean up the mess anyway.”


See stuff for some of the coverage this picked up.

Radio NZ interview

Myself and fellow delegate Chelsea were interviewed for morning report this morning (though it was broadcast last night Copenhagen time). You can listen to it here (here if you're awesome like me and use open source software). It gives you an update of what we're up to, and in the process we teach Geoff Robinson about "electronic communication".

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Flight of the Kiwis

New Zealand stakeholder briefing meeting number one. Negotiators?”




Right. Item one. What should we talk about?”

And thus the first New Zealand briefing of day two of COP15 began, just like an episode of Flight of the Conchords. Small office, laminated sign, faded flag, not many people. The only thing missing was a poster saying “New Zealand – ewe should come,” or something of the like.

New Zealand really shows its importance at the UNFCCC by having a tiny office positioned strategically in the far corner of the delegation offices (and being told to pay $24 if the wanted another chair). The stakeholder briefing meeting I went to this morning was small and informal – but should get bigger and more detailed as things go on. Nothing much has happened at COP15 yet, just openings of negotiations. The meetings really are a great opportunity though; an incredible advantage of coming from such a small country that basically all Kiwis are welcome to come and talk details with the bureaucrats about what's happening, and even argue about policy every day.

But we do have to remember that we're not that big a player, but we can have a great positive impact. However, currently our 10 to 20% emissions reduction (below 1990 levels by 2020) targets will not help the developed world reach the 25 to 40% cuts necessary to stop dangerous climate change – and they are highly conditional.

For New Zealand to go to a 20% target, it wants to see global targets set at a level where temperature rises are limited to 2°C (which New Zealand itself wont be going far enough to reach). There are four other demands, including wanting to be able to purchase offsets to be able to reach most of those emission cuts off shore – meaning we'd be paying others to do what we don't want to do, even though ultimately everyone needs to substantially cut emissions. We also want to be able to grow lots of trees tat home to achieve these offsets. Without these, and other conditions being met (many of which having a low level of probability of success) New Zealand's target will be much lower than 20%.

So New Zealand is very demanding for such a small player. In reality we should actively be a positive voice for climate change to protect ourselves, our Pacific neighbours who are drowning under rising seas, and everyone else from the worst effect of climate change. There is so much more we could do, and that would be a huge business opportunity for us – already being well and truly seized by countries like Norway who have experienced strong economic growth recently, and plan to be carbon neutral by 2030. What ever happened to Helen Clark's desires for NZ to become carbon neutral too?

There's so much we could do, we've got a really talented negotiating team here, and New Zealand has a good reputation of purity to live up to. Let's hope John Key has (another) change of heart and directs the New Zealand Delegation to push for a deal we could truly be proud of. That's what COP15 should be about for the humble but talented Kiwis.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Staying COY about COP in Hopenhagen

Right now I am sitting in an apartment in Copenhagen where I arrived, along with the rest of the New Zealand Youth Delegation (NZYD), just under a week ago! And what a week it has been.

First off, it's quite an adjustment to make going from almost summer to almost winter. Cold, grey and very little sunlight, making the jet lag real lame. Second, so much to do, so little time (and so much of that time spent sleeping!). We've been getting our bearings, setting up our base camps, and at the weekend we attended COY5.

COY5 stands for Conference Of the Youth number 5, and is where all the young folks meet to learn and scheme before the UN climate change conference begins (which was today!). The photo above is of four of the lovely NZ Youth Delegates walking around coldly in the square outside the old and very detailed building in which it was being held.

Then today we had our first day at the UNFCCC COP15 (the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change). Yeah, that's right, the freakin' UN. And I had me a pass to get inside. The United Nations, full of important people. Such as myself of course.

I didn't go until the afternoon, as the morning was just a welcome ceremony and then plenary sessions - which means a massive room full of people from all over the world talking about how great their countries are (well, at least on the first day, before negotiations start in earnest). In the afternoon I went to a couple of very interesting "side events" where people pontificated about interesting climate related stuff.

So I've had my first taste - and it was such a busy taste. It will only get busier from here on in.

What's everyone doing at the COP15 you may ask. Well, the countries present are trying to reach an agreement on what to do about climate change. People like myself are here because we Hopenhagen that a deal will be reached, will be legally binding (so that no one can get out of it) and will mean that our climate that we so rely on is kept in a stable condition. And we will damn well do our best to pressure countries to make this happen.

There you have my last exciting week, concentrated into a sweetened form, like condensed milk. From here on in I will be blogging more regularly about more detailed and serious stuff, and you may even catch me on the news as the NZYD spokesperson.

The first week will be where we find our feet, the middle weekend should see huge demonstrations as the pressure mounts, and next week is where the magic will happen. Almost a hundred world leaders set to arrive at what is the most important and unprecedented meeting in human history. By 18 December we want them to have wrapped up a deal and make sure that this two weeks ensures the safety of our climate for all generations to come. Let's make sure they do it.