Saturday, 19 December 2009

Tuvalu -- first islands to go are the last ones standing on procedure at COP15

Lisa Williams-Lahari, Climate Pasifika media
Saturday 19 December 2009, COPENHAGEN-- Hours before the COP15 closed on Saturday afternoon, Tuvalu's lead negotiator Ian Fry was still one of the lone Pacific voices at the Bella Centre venue. Fry red-flagged the agenda item which saw him hit the international headlines early last week. The controversial agenda item 5 had been submitted according to the UNFCCC COP rules of procedure but a request for the set up of a transparent contact group process rather than informal consultations planned by the COP15 President led to the Day 2 suspension of the COP.
On Day 13, as the plenary struggled through text of the working group on Long term cooperative actions, Tuvalu put up its hand to note the outstanding agenda item 5 and proposed adding the words legally binding to a paragraph referred to as L6. That sparked a back and forth row between countries against and in support of the additions; before discussion on the item was deferred to a contact group of 'interested parties 'in the wings of the plenary.
By the end of the meeting at 2.30 local time, Ambassador Colin Beck, presiding over the COP, said the agenda item 5 had not been able to be addressed and would be put on the provisional agenda of COP16 as per rules of procedure. For WWF International's Diane McFadzien, the lack of process and transparency has been disappointing. (see below)
TRANSCRIPT: Diane McFadzien, WWF International, COP veteran-- legitimately-produced draft texts on the table. Tuvalu's included. But the limelight given to Tuvalu which allowed AOSIS to highlight its concerns to global media and the COP stage owed much to the efforts of one lone negotiator. Ian Fry has had to couple the pressures of negotiations at COP and a duty to Tuvalu with a wave of hate-publicity back home in Australia and diplomatic bullying aimed at his exclusion from advising his leaders.  It's built a wave of anti-Australia perceptions amongst the Pacific officials still smarting from their treatment at the Forum and CHOGM and earned him the sympathy and respect of many in AOSIS, and especially of his team.
I mean that's been a major disappointment . Under the Convention there is an element in there which allows you to put forth protocols saying you must do so six months in advance. Tuvalu followed all the correct legal procedures, and it put it on the table six months in advance. It was made availabel to all the parties, it was put on the website, everyone could access it, but here, nobody's given it the time of day.
Tuvalu has been amongst the most vocal Pacific nations against the Copenhagen Accord, already widely perceived as being some kind of Outcomes document for COP15. More questions and confusion were the tone of today's to and fro on process and rules of procedure, which eventually showed that the Accord has only been noted by COP, not adopted by it. However given its powerful backing and a list of disenchanted countries whose leaders want to save face at home, the Accord is likely to gain credibility unless COP does a massive awareness-raising exercise on its
Said one prominent Tuvalu activist:
"We're proud of what Ian Fry has done for Tuvalu. He's put us on the map when all the developed countries here seem determined to wipe us off the face of the Earth. He is a valued member of our team, and I feel sorry for all the treatment he's received just because he stood up for people who need help to stand up at these big meetings."


TRANSCRIPT: Ian Fry, Tuvalu negotiator, COP15
LWL: Being Australian and on the side of the Pacific nations who all of a sudden despite the Pacific Forum solidarity, now face being across the room in terms of position from Australia and NZ, what's that like?
Ian Fry: Well obviously it's difficult. I've been working for the Tuvalu government the last 11 years and trying to do my best for the Tuvalu government. But it's obviously difficult. There's been a lot of pressure put on me personally in the recent days about my situation, being an Australian working for the Tuvalu government. --ENDS

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