Oceana marine scientist Ellycia Harrould Kolieb is at the COP16 climate negotiations in Cancun.
Even at this early stage in the negotiations, countries are proving unwilling to come to the table on some issues. Day two saw Japan announce that it will not, under any circumstances, inscribe targets in a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Japan is committed to killing the Kyoto protocol, which is kind of ironic since it was born in Japan.
Also on the agenda for day two was a discussion on whether the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) should undertake a review of the impacts of a 1.5oC temperature rise. This would bring forward the latest science and help to inform negotiations as to the real and immediate threats facing many nations from a less than 2 oC increase in temperatures.
While this should be a relatively non-contentious scientific review and most countries do support it, there are countries that do not want to see it happen. Hopefully this review will be approved to move forward, and a thorough evaluation of the most recent science will help move this process along.
The day also ended with fireworks in some of the side events. One hosted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) got quite heated over the topic of common but differentiated responsibilities, a cornerstone of UNFCCC policy. It was suggested that since the IMO has been so slow to act on regulating shipping emissions that the responsibility should be taken away and returned to the UNFCCC.
This was countered with the argument that allocating shipping emissions to nations under the UNFCCC would simply be unfair – for example, should Panama really be held responsible for 25 percent of all shipping emissions? IMO representatives claimed that the lack of action was in fact because they were waiting on signals from the UNFCCC so that they could move forward with regulation. Regulation could be in place by the middle of 2011 with the directive of the UNFCCC (regulations that at this stage are lacking due to their inability to achieve large reductions from the current, very inefficient fleet).
The day ended with a tropical thunderstorm – one that hopefully has cleared the air a little for more open and honest negotiations on day 3.
Stay tuned for more, and don’t forget to take action to stop ocean acidification!