Sunday 13 December 2009, COPENHAGEN-- The Sunday half-way lull in COP15 activities at the Bella Centre is a deceptive one. Most Pacific leaders are already into the 30-plus hours of air travel and transitting involved in getting here early next week. Behind the scenes and away from the public eye, their delegations and other Pacific participants are planning how to negotiate their way through the remaining working group, side sessions, activist meetings, and press conferences as the pace picks up towards Friday's deadline. As the busy first week draws to a close, one of the three AOSIS vice-chairs, Ambassador Colin Beck of the Solomon Islands, and environmental scientist Dr Al Binger of Jamaica, take stock of a week where all eyes have been on the parties to the UFCCC Conventon who have the most to lose at these negotiations. Says AOSIS scientist-turned-activist Dr Al Binger, "We are slowly progressing towards all the things we hopefully will achieve: a good agreement on a legally binding framweork for all the commitments on the table-- right packaging of financing to support adaptation needs and mitigation, agreement on a good insurance system to protect the losses in the SIDS, a dedicated window for us to access finansing and other aspects and platforms from New York".
"We will not accept two degrees. We will not agree to our own demise. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever."
Given it's only been a few months since the New York sessions where the AOSIS position on 1.5degrees Celsius was launched, Beck says the time of "talking past each other" has passed and at this COP nations are finally talking TO each other. "We have moved past all that (talking) and now need to be talking numbers and finances and know where the resources and have more detailed discussions rather than trying to advocate for where we are; but really to get things on the table and sign the dotted lines," he says in a quick on-camera moment below.
Meanwhile, Tuvalu's call for a contact group remains off the agenda but on the table, pending 'further discussions'. The country's chief negotiator Ian Fry became the international media's most sought after interview -- and up until he tabled a heart-felt call for the Chair on Saturday, still insisted the much misunderstood and misinterpreted roar from Tuvalu over rules of procedure had more to do with the billions who live in the AOSIS regions, and was not in fact about the 11,000 or so clinging to their livelihoods in the former Ellis Islands. Despite that, Tuvalu and Kiribati as well as a canny and upbeat cadre of young activists from the Pacific, have helped embed the 'call to conscience' perceptions of AOSIS which have earned the support of so many green activists from the developed world. Along the same lines, Pacific activists such as Fei Tevi of the Pacific Conference of Churches, Ulamila Wragg of the Pacific WAVE Media Network, and Malia Nobrega of an indigenous peoples NGO in Hawaii, are in turn ensuring that the churches, human rights, gender and other civil society concerns are on the radar of the AOSIS leaders teams. But united as they may be on '1.5 to stay alive', island nations are not immune to the same frictions dogging the powerful Annex-1 nations who will ultimately decide the fate of this event. Papua New Guinea's chief negotiator Kevin Conraud, who rocketed to international media headlines in 2007 for telling the US in no uncertain terms to step aside and 'leave it to the rest of us' after a particularly draining exercise in wasted time, earned a few bleeps himself this week within the AOSIS grouping for remarks which distanced PNG from the AOSIS consensus.The position of Papua New Guinea, where three quarters of the Pacific's 8million and growing population are living, will take on heightened weight next week as it deals with environmental issues on a scale unmatched by anyone else in the Pacific forum family.--ENDS