Will a coal country save the climate? GCE at the world climate summit

We look at empty seats of the new stadium in Warsaw. Shall they remind the conference attendees of the people they represent? This reminder is crucial in an international climate conference that is sponsored and influenced by coal industry. Literally nothing was expected from this event in advance – a bad starting point for a platform that is supposed to solve one of the world’s most urging problems.
It is hard to imagine how someone doesn’t get lost trying to understand this event on their own. Fortunately we came to Warsaw as a group. We registered as observer organization at the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change) and activated our networks to get insights from more experienced observers. After passing through intimidating security checks we decided to go to a side-event about how carbon markets could be united. California uses its market to complement regulation, whereas European Union regulates in order to meet Kyoto Protocol goals implemented by the carbon market. The latter don’t agree with California’s practices to limit prize increases by selling more carbon credits. The penalists weren’t optimistic about the chance to combine those markets although all speakers agreed that a bigger market would improve this tool. It seems more likely that New Zealand lines up with Asian countries and California and EU with Australia in case Australia returns to an ambitious climate mitigation policy.
The United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) annual Conference of the Parties (COP) does not only bring policy makers from all over the world together, also Scientists and representatives of non-governmental organizations meet here. It is tempting to spend a whole day not in political plena but at information events and learn about what is going on in research and implementation. Our second topic was a side event about ocean acidification. Scientists and representatives of international governmental organizations informed about background and state of policy in this field. “Over 1 billion people depend on marine protein for survival (…) This supply is at risk due to ocean acidification driven by increasing carbon dioxide. Ocean acidification is at a rate not seen since the dinosaurs died out.” Carol Turley (PML). An interesting study that was mentioned was about sites of upwelling of pure CO2 into seawater and its effect on species composition. If those so-called CO2 vents are used as predictor for biodiversity change in marine ecosystems 30% decrease in biodiversity could be expected. This makes sense considering that the expected PH change of 0.3 would be deadly if this was a change happening in human blood system. We had a short look into a side-event by the African Development Bank before we listened to talks about the question how to agree mitigation adequacy and equity.
One highlight of the day was the high level youth briefing: The Peruvian environmental minister who is currently preparing the next COP that is going to take place in Lima had invited youth representatives. He pointed out how important civil society engagement is for the former NGO representative. He seemed to enjoy speaking in front of this public and assured that his presidency will do the best to ease non-governmental participation. Not only GCE was very restricted in the number of observers that were accredited, but also other youth organizations expressed their concerns. The minister gently overlooked the question about the inclusion of minorities that are not recognized as nations, answered extensively to the question of Lima’s importance in global climate mitigation policy. He underlined how important it will be to prepare the decisive COP 2015 in Paris when the international community is going to herald the post Kyoto period.

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