Day #2: Copenhagen delegation de-brief – Tuesday, December 8
"People from the global south appreciated our solidarity with them and were almost throwing themselves at us to be a part of our pictures."
(UMW Delegation with Friends from Nigeria and Burkina Fasso)
Accomplishments, Lessons, Highlights
Political context for the day: Opening plenary - Southern governments felt they weren't heard in terms of not wanting consensus process – they were worrying that an agreement gets watered down as a result of this process. Also mention of draft texts by Danish government, and concern that G-77 and China were formulating a weak text/proposal to put forward.
Pat Watkins (Green Team): I attended the Mobilization for Climate Justice briefing and observed that there is a lot of history among people in the group. This is a community that knows each other well which seems to be a pre-requisite to doing this work, for being able to make a difference in terms in advocacy outcomes - having those pre-existing relationships, which we had through our consultant Pam and staff Esmeralda. Knowing each other, having the pre-existing trust and agreements regarding positions – that is necessary for being able to speak with some kind of unified voice that would make some sort of difference.
Pamela Sparr (UMW Consultant on Climate Justice): I investigated an interesting display in the Klima Forum that used a popular education technique to get people talking about how they were part of the solution regarding addressing climate change. It was a colorful, lively, and visual way to stimulate people's sharing in small groups and creativity and would recommend that it get considered as part of the display area for UMW Assembly
Pat and Pam: meeting Holly Jones, from Iowa. A young United Methodist Woman who is the Executive Committee Chair of the Sierray Student Coalition (related to the Sierra Club). She is part of a large delegation of some 500 students here at the COP-15. (From many countries and part of various non-governmental organizations.) She talked with Pat how her faith is connected with her environmental concerns. She was not aware of what the UMW or church in general was doing regarding climate change and got very excited when she met us. She heard Pam identify herself at the U.S. government briefing and came up to introduce herself after the session. We think she would be a great person to get involved in Green Teams and connect more into the environmental justice work of UMW. We will give her a call and try to set up an interview and videotape it to post to the web.
Pam: By a stroke of luck, while I was standing around waiting with Pat to meet Tupou, I noticed that Saleemul Huq was standing right behind me. He is a VIP at this conference! Mr. Huq is a Senior Fellow of the International Institute for Environment and Development in London, England. Mr. Huq was the lead author on the third IPCC assessment report for the chapter that explored adaptation and sustainable development – breaking new intellectual and political ground in that report. This enabled the political discussion to broaden, so that it was not just a scientific or technical debate about global warming numbers and technological fixes. It introduced human suffering and opportunities to foster more just and sustainable development into the discussion. . Now he is working to help build the negotiating capacity of the Least Developing Countries (LDCs) in this UN process. Many LDCs are among those that will be the most hard hit by the effects of climate change. He is advising the G-77 here in Copenhagen as well. We discussed the U.S. position and I agreed to share any pertinent information I would learn at the US Government briefing for NGOs tonight. This to me is a great example of North-South solidarity, and also how it is helpful to know people in advance of these high level events, in order to be able to quickly take advantage of certain opportunities to collaborate on advocacy. It is also a reminder of how some opportunities at these kinds of conferences are totally unplanned and you just need to be ready to seize the moment.
Tupou: Women and gender caucus briefing. All kinds of people – young, old, and even some men. Used a whole lot of lingo that was new to me. I asked the chair to set a ground rule that when people speak, they do not use acronyms because there are more new people in that caucus than just myself. There needs to be a way to cultivate the learning and participation of new people in the work of caucuses, even though they have limited time each day and need to be pretty efficient about their work.
Highlight for Pat: hearing the US government delegation tonight during a 30-minute briefing for NGOs. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was there and other high-level officials. One aspect that concerned me was the negotiator's comment - that we can't dwell on the past (U.S.' historic emissions and the moral obligation we bear because of it), but rather, that the US would also focus on the future (developing nations' responsibility for curbing reductions, such as China and India, among other developing nations).
Pam: I am tracking various listservs and participating in various coalitions on behalf of UMW to assist with our climate change advocacy. This morning the Mobilization for Climate Justice (MCJ) and Climate Reality Check (CRC) groups wasted no time in getting down to business. The CRC group consists of US non-governmental organizations and is focused on advocacy related to Congress and the Administration. As a result of that CRC meeting, I volunteered to ask a question at tonight's official US delegation briefing for NGOs – the first of the conference. The U.S. delegation has not offered any specific amounts of money for international adaptation and other climate finance needs. The U.S. government has been talking in generalities and UMW, like many U.S. denominations, has a position supporting a certain amount of funding. When the CRC group developed our list of questions for tonight, my assignment was to try and get a specific answer regarding amounts of long-term climate finance the US was willing to put on the table. This fall, the US government along with European and other wealthy nations committed to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. I also was to ask a question about whether the US government was willing to redirect those subsidies towards international climate finance. While there were probably 200-250 people in the room – it was standing room only – and many people had their hands up during the very limited question and answer time, I was the first person recognized to ask a question. While I didn't get any firm answer from Mr. Pershing – he is a very polished spokesperson for the government and knows how to skillfully avoid answering questions – at least we had a minor success. The CRC group wanted to press the U.S. to put more money on the table and to introduce the concept of re-diverting fossil fuel subsidies as one way to do that. Sometimes, simply asking questions in a public event is a way of expanding the dialogue, the public debate. Sometimes, advocacy objectives are modest. Going into this conference we all knew that the commitment to be climate change advocates is a long-term commitment that extends well past Copenhagen. But tonight, we could be proud that UMW was recognized as one of those who are willing to ask tough questions and to stand up for justice. And, it helps to wear a red sweater! (I think I was more visible in the crowd of black, grey and navy blue attire!)