The physical challenge of combating climate change, in the face
of the rapid growth of major developing economies, is all too
tangible in Tianjin. This city is an apposite choice of host for
this UNFCCC negotiating
session. Tianjin, with a population of 6 million, is a city that
seems to extend endlessly, to the horizon and beyond. Here, unlike
in European cities such as Bonn, Lyon or Manchester which have a
more sedate rate of growth, there is no visible end to the high
rise buildings and wide expressways and no sense that the city, or
its demands on the environment, will ever taper off. The rapid
creation and expansion of such mega cities and their energy demands
bring home the imperative that we incentivise low-carbon growth all
over the world.
Here is a new city of wide expressways, filled full of luxury
cars (with comparatively few bicycles), whose size and greenhouse
gas emissions will grow exponentially in the coming decades.
Incomes in many areas of China are 10 per cent of those in larger
cities like Shanghai, but this is not intended to remain the case.
The environmental efforts made by Tianjin were highlighted in the
opening ceremony. What will power this and other cities' growth
(and what such growth entails) if not unabated coal, and what
international climate finance architecture and incentives could
realistically be put in place to encourage the adoption of an
Progress this week?
This week's meetings in Tianjin have been attracting media
attention. Perhaps not as much as the Commonwealth Games, but with
reporting, for example, on BBC World News, there is a greater level
of awareness than of the usual rounds of meetings in Bonn. Our
hosts have gone to great lengths to make sure that things run
smoothly, with drivers and an extensive coach network available to
whisk delegates and observers to their destinations. The conference
facilities are lush and brand-spanking new. In the words of
Christiana Figueres, now is the time for the delegates to rise to
The immediate priority for delegates this week is to focus on
the deliverables for COP
16 which starts next month, not far away now. Has
progress been made over this year? The official message is that it
has, that the Kyoto Protocol draft text is in good shape and that
there are areas of the AWG
LCA text which are relatively close to being agreed. As
highlighted by the Chair of the AWG-LCA, the session will be
"make or break for the Cancun outcome". Her desire is to
present a set of draft decisions to COP that is close to
agreed. This upbeat assessment contrasts with comments from some
delegates that expectations for Cancun are low and that there
appears to be further backsliding from positions established in
Copenhagen. Certainly, negotiating texts are being loaded up with
extensive additional language once again, a sure sign that Parties
are not making headway. The negotiations appear to be hindered,
too, by overarching uncertainties about whether richer nations will
deliver on the $30 billion finance
they pledged in Copenhagen and what this "fast-start"
Unfortunately, it appears that there is a wide variety of views
on what level of ambition Parties will be bringing to Cancun. Are
we to expect a repeat of Copenhagen, where everything was left on a
knife edge until the last minute? If so, would that lead to another
flawed outcome that will seal these negotiations' fate for good
and give rise to a definitive swing towards bilateral and
multilateral negotiations outside the UN process? We hope more clarity
will be available later this week as new papers emerge and the
Chairs of the different working groups report on the negotiated
The fourteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further
Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP
14) and the twelfth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on
Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 12) are
being held from Monday 4 to Saturday 9 October 2010 in Tianjin,
Both groups will present their decisions to the 16th session of
the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 16) and
sixth session of the Conference of the parties serving as the
Meeting of the Parties (COP/MOP 6), in Cancún, Mexico, which
will take place between 29 November and 10 December 2010.
We will be attending the negotiations. We will be reporting back
on interesting developments over the course of the week.
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