Saturday, 19 December 2009

UN COP process: insights from Pacific's Nobel Peace Prize winner

Lisa Williams-Lahari, Climate Pasifika Media
Thursday 17 December 2009, COPENHAGEN-- In 2007, he became the first Pacific Islander to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as one of the lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 2009, Dr Graham Sem was amongst those at COP15 predicting tough decisions for AOSIS members making up the island nations of the world, as the cracks started to show in their 1.5 to stay alive solidarity.
Sem, of Papua New Guinea, has made climate change his life's passion, travelling the globe helping communities and countries deal with its impacts. 
His work experience with UNFCCC, IPCC, and SPREP eventually led him to his Nobel Prize-winning role in 2007 as one of the the lead authors for the IPCC, and he is amongst those picking up on the differences between COP15 and process of previous COP meetings.
"The difference with this COP is we don't have an actual text that has been agreed to," he says.
"The difference here is we really do not have a text." ( The Copenhagen Accord, an agreement by some of the high level meeting leaders has not been adopted by the COP because its inception and tabling was in breach of COP rules of procedure.)
While the Copenhagen Accord put forward by one group of COP heavyweights is still copping flak for lack of transparency and due process when other proposed texts have been ignored, Sem says other changes also have their pros and cons, amongst them, the two-track process for negotiations aimed at making approaches to Climate change work more effective and equitable.The AWGKP (Ad-hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol)  tries to strengthen committments of developed countries and the LCA (Long-term Cooperative Actions) supposed to be inclusive of all developing countries, also tries to lock in commitment towards collective action.
His words provide food for thought as Pacific delegations head home facing an uncertain climate-change future. Once their Christmas and New Years gatherings are over, island nations; already exhausted by accepting or refusing the much-debated Copenhagen Accord,  COP, will soon have to ramp up their voice and engagement to ensure they don't suffer the same fate at COP16.

TRANSCRIPT: Dr Graham Sem--
Sem: We have to start thinking long term, I mean we are not negotiating this for ourselves now, because we are already hit by historical emissions but we are negotiating here for the long term, our children and their children so we have to strike a balance with the needs we have now and our evolving needs of our generations to come. You know I think it's going to be a difficult challenge for AOSIS countries.

LWL: But given the power imbalance here, are we really negotiating fairly and as equal partners, given the power plays that are being done here?

Sem: No. I think we have been made to believe, that there was some equality among different countries and groups but as you have seen in the last few days, some of the heavy weights started to make interventions that are not useful for the long term goals that we had anticipated to achieve here.--ENDS

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