This was the second day of COP, but our first day of negotiations. The leaders of nations from around the world have jetted home. (My friend New Zealand Green MP Kennedy Graham pointed out in his blog today that we actually do not have “world leaders” – just leaders of various nations.)
The place felt less frantic, less frenetic, and the negotiations took on the glacial pace for which they are well known. For the section of text I follow – the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Plan of Action (ADP) – no country was willing to agree to even the smallest change. With political tensions at a dangerous low boil over Turkey shooting down a Russian jet, the Russian and Turkish negotiators treated each other with courteous diplomacy as they faced off over alternate text in square brackets.
A highpoint today was the proof of new openness as the Environment and Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna, exchanged with the many Canadian environmental, educational, labour, church and youth groups here at COP. They asked clear questions and either the minister or Canada’s lead negotiator tried to answer. The minister actually apologized for having to go back to Ottawa for the opening of Parliament, but promised briefings from officials in her absence. Which means that in two days of COP, Catherine McKenna has held exactly a zillion more briefings for civil society than any minister in the last ten years. (Assuming my math is right and that one meeting in 2 days is a zillion times more than none over ten years.)
But nice vibes only take us so far. We (opposition MPs and civil society) will be watching these exacting line by line negotiations of the draft text to be certain our new government is pushing for the best possible treaty.
The level of professionalism and detailed knowledge of the draft text demonstrated exactly how prepared Canadian civil society is to demand a strong treaty.