Yale, the G77 + China and Penny Wong

Friday 11 December 2009

After a crazy day yesterday, I woke up this morning still feeling exhausted but aiming to get to the daily YOUNGO Spokescouncil meeting. However, I was too slow off the mark and our ANU meeting was late so I didn't get out of the hotel until around 9am. Steph and I headed over to the Bella Centre only for Steph to find that she had left her pass behind!

I went in (it was a crazy push through security and then in the cloak room line – there really is merit in getting there early!) and tried to find the YOUNGO policy meeting. I couldn't. I later found out that it wasn't on. I got a daily program and went to the computers to check some emails, etc.

I found out via email that there was a Youth Forest Working Group action on REDD at 11am outside the SBSTA drafting negotiations. I bumped into Phoebe who was also going and we headed over. About 5 other young people were dressed up as elves and we formed part of the choir which sang "14 Days of UN Negotiations" to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas. I'm beginning to notice the same faces from the "grown up" NGOs who show up to all the REDD negotiations to lobby the actual delegates!

A security guard came up and said we had to leave because we were making too much noise. I thought Gemma might suggest we sing even louder just to be hostile but in fact, she just told us to be perfectly silent and be there.

Christmas is all around us - even at COP15!

We left after the door closed and went down towards the computer sections to have a bit of a debrief. Phoebe, Fern and I had to run off to the Yale/ANU lunch.

We met some cool people from Yale who are doing amazing things. They were explaining to us that their class broke into 6 "pods" focussing on different aspects of the COP – Ecuador (because the head of the negotiating team was an alumna of Yale and had emailed Yale to ask for help with media, logistics, etc.); tracking the Chinese negotiations (they have a blog called www.greenleapforward.org); REDD. I spoke to George who is part of the China team who was talking about how they had been prepping on China for the past semester and now have been following the Tuvalu/China schism, meeting the China delegation (and the Chinese youth); sneaking into the Media section (apparently if you sign in as Yale its fine).

Tom, Luke, Marcus, Bella and our Yale friends listen as we discuss our different projects. It was sometimes hard to find a spance to have a meeting so you would frequently see delegations or groups meeting in open spaces like this one!

Janette, Shaun and I had a conversation about the negotiations and climate justice. We were asking Janette about what she thinks of the international negotiators and she was talking about how she has been offered jobs with the DCC but philosophically can't accept the offers. She said she knows people who drop out from the DCC because they don't want to tow the government line. We were talking about how incredible it is that some countries feel "entitled" to exceptions (US, Canada, Australia, etc.) and how it might be the solution to completely swipe out KP and start again with 350 ppm as the final outcome (and working around solutions which achieve this). Apparently Norway, Germany, some of the other Scandanvian countries are quite open to the idea of them taking up the responsibility of developed nations (similar to how Scandavia, Germany went into Southern Africa to help with their agricultural developments).

Shaun and I went to do some digital diary work (I did some YOUNGO research online) and I bumped into David Noble, the founder of Mass Dialogues, who then bumped into the biggest guy in China of solar energy. David was talking about the evolution of youth since Montreal and how there were about 150 youth at Nairobi, 200 at Bali, 500 at Poznan (which was already too big!) and now 2000 at COP15. (Later in the day, I was talking to Beth who is with THMUN and said her experience earlier this year was so much better because she felt like a part of something in new york? At the sustainability convention because there were only about 60/70 youth there and the delegates were more willing to talk to them). He said the 2000 young people was both a good and bad thing.

I bumped into Beth at the EU Pavillion who said that Penny Wong was meeting with the Australian youth at 5pm. I got a text message from the youth network about a G77 + China briefing at 4pm and after just missing the youth freeze action, Siri and I went to the briefing. The Sudanese delegate was the official spokesperson for the G77. He was calm, measured and received a standing ovation. I was enthralled by his speech and took extensive notes!

Siri, holding up her sign calling for stronger cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to ensure the temperature does not rise about 1.5 degrees, in the G77+China briefing. I'm so glad I met her at the Conference of the Youth!

The Penny Wong briefing was revealing. She was such a politician in how she answered some of her questions. For example, Braidon, one of the the two Indigenous Australians who were part of the AYCC delegation, spoke about how important it was to the Indigenous Caucus that the UN Declaration of the Indigenous Person was included in the final REDD text. Wong responded by asking Braidon exactly what words he wanted in the text. From my perspective, it appeared he did not have a response to that but he handled the question well and told her he would find out and get back to her.

Wong generously started out by stating that "some of our discussions in schools are better than our discussions in Parliament" and spoke of how young people hold politicians to account and remind them of why they do it. She watched the Tony Abbott advertisement the AYCC had made with a bemused look. She was also very frank, describing the COP15 process by proclaiming "This is not a shopping list. This is a negotiation." She was realistic, stating "Britain can spend money on flood mitigation. Bangladesh cannot." Finally, she made it clear that meaningful environmental outcomes cannot be achieved by the Kyoto Protocol. She ended her briefing by saying "We need actions by non Kyoto Protocol countries."

Meeting in the Australian Delegation Office (where we went for the Australian briefing earlier in the week) with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and Penny Wong.

I was surprised the youth weren't more radical/demanding but I think it was part of their strategy to softly tread.

Group photo with Penny Wong, Australia's Minister for Climate Change. If you look long and hard, you may indeed see me on the far left.

Phoebe and I (its nice that I now have someone to hang out with!) went to the Youth Forest Meeting where we spoke about our action planned for 8am tomorrow morning (!) (must go to bed asap its now 12.20am!) and an update on the REDD negotiations which were supposed to be going through the night tonight because it might be that REDD is what the heads of state hold up to be the outcome of the conference.

After the meeting, we watched out of the corner of our eyes as Gemma "bumped into" the DRC negotiator on REDD to try to convince her to agree that the Congo would not allow the conversion of forests to plantations to be funded by REDD. Brendan Mackey and one of the other women from the Wilderness Society also "bumped into" her!

We went out to dinner in the city and got horribly lost trying to find a restaurant from the Lonely Planet Guide! It was so crowded although the waitress was really nice and tried to fit us in. We'll go back. Instead we had Mexican. Mexican in Denmark. Yum.


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