By Dirk Forrister, IETA
As Friday drew to a close, Jeff Swartz and I went on a walkabout the Le Bourget COP 21 facility, trolling for information. That’s what you do on the final day of the COP. The Presidency convened no open meetings today – so the only way to learn the status of things is through hallway conversations.
Our first meeting was incredibly discouraging. An exhausted European delegate thought we were at risk of losing it all – the accounting language, the crediting mechanism and the REDD+ mechanism. He saw a slight hope that Brazil would stand firm, but suspected that the Venezuelan block on markets could prevail. Admittedly, he was beyond tired – but as the issue had bumped upstairs, it was now in the hands of the President.
Next, we got a report that allies in the Umbrella Group might be weakening. The US has made clear all year that the market provisions are not a priority, since their current plan is a “domestic only” approach. But others under the Umbrella have offered INDCs that express an intention to use international markets (New Zealand, Canada, Australia, etc). Apparently, the US would offer little help from this point onward, so we continued our walkabout, looking for Brazil and New Zealand.
We began to mobilize a few IETA members to make final contacts with delegations where they had influence. We began to prepare two press statements: one for success, one for failure (or shall we say, qualified success – because markets will go forward, regardless of the outcome… what is at risk is the potential advantages of international linkages with UN support).
Instead, we found an AOSIS expert. His view was extremely positive. He thought Venezuela could be calmed – and he reassured that AOSIS understands that their hopes of reaching serious levels of protection depend on markets to unlock greater ambitions. We took heart, given his enthusiasm.
A few steps later brought an encounter with Panama. Everyone is exhausted, he thought. His assessment was that the fears of Venezuela prevailing might be overcome. Best to get a good meal and get some rest, because the issue was kicked upstairs. He left us saying, its hard to say where it will land, but we did all we could.
At last, we found New Zealand. She was firm, positive –and determined to win a workable structure in the Agreement. But if it failed, she would help lead formation of a coalition outside the agreement to take markets forward. Either way, she saw a good path forward.
As we headed back to the IETA-WBCSD “Open for Business” Hub, we bumped into a smiling Canadian minister and her team. Her assessment was bright. She had led the ministerial consultations on markets – and she believed a solution was in sight.
Back on our home turf in the Hub, it was reassuring to see several of the IETA core team. The ups and downs of the walkabout felt more like a policy rollercoaster. (Now we know what its like in Australia!) But the magnetic pull of the Hub reminded of the strength of our team, our allies in government and our friends in the NGO community. We had all used the Hub as our “control center” for the two weeks, and it enabled our team to advance our views with maximum effect.
We’re still prepared with two press releases – and only a few hours to know the outcome!