The weekends at COP seem to be a combination of three things: a continuation of the COP itself, other side events and activities taking place, and this time, the palpable sense of lack of achievement.
Main plenaries on Saturday featured a stock taking of the progress so far at the COP and a series of thorough presentations from the EU countries on their progress on implementing action. A session like this gives the opportunity for other countries to both learn from and also question EU countries on their progress towards their 2020 targets. It is an important part of transparency of implementation and action as the EU countries can be hold accountable (or learned from) in this forum by the global community. The session saw high representation from a number of countries, and it seemed to be mostly their technical staff that attended to learn from other countries. It was hence closely related to the ‘capability building’ of developing and least-developed countries, that is an important part of this year’s COP agenda.
This session in many cases showed that many EU economies have successfully decoupled growth and emissions reduction. However, this claim is undermined by the fact that no consumption emissions are included in the calculations. It would likely be a very different conversation if countries would be evaluated based on their carbon consumptions, i.e. the carbon emissions that are implicitly included in the products which consume and which lead to actual carbon emissions in other, mostly lower developed, countries. These emissions, however, are currently considered externalities and not in the scope of the INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) of national economies. This shortcoming might only be one of many equity issues in the whole governance framework.
In general, the feeling at the venue on Saturday was a bit lack lustre and I can’t help but notice the difference between the middle Saturday here and the middle Saturday at Paris. There doesn’t seem to be a clear objective and the momentum feels to be dwindling. The delegations have moved beyond the shock of the US election news. Unfortunately this has re-framed or refreshed some of the political tensions at the COP and certainly colors the way that the US conducts themselves (as the dominant voice in every discussion) in a new, somewhat less legitimate, way.
Aside from this stark reality, Saturday at the COP was certainly more quiet than the other days, likely because there were many other social events happening during the day on Saturday (e.g. development days event, transportation days, and the climate march), and the famous CAN party (Climate Action Network) on Saturday evening. Read more about them in our daily blog.