I got kicked out of negotiations at COP23

Santiago de Chile-  a room that will be forever remembered as the room I got kicked out of.

From the beginning of COP23, I followed the negotiations on global stocktake. I went to every session I could – G77 coordination meetings, working groups, and most importantly, informal consultations between the co-facilitators and the parties. By the afternoon of the 14th of November, the negotiations on GST had come to a conclusion. The parties had agreed on the rough building blocks and after one iteration, they agreed on an informal note produced by the co-facilitators as well. So that was it. It felt like my road at COP23 had come to a premature end. I felt directionless and lost now that there were no more meetings for GST. So, I just decided to stumble into a meeting on climate finance – something Thomas had been following since week 1 of COP23.

As Thomas will admit, the first time you step into a climate finance session, you’ll feel more lost than navigating the streets of KL without Waze. As I got sucked into the multiple agenda items that were being discussed, one issue in particular stood out and slowly I recognized how much of a problem it would be over the next few days. The discussion over Article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement was a contentious one that dragged out across the two weeks, leading to a delay in the closing of the COP. In a nutshell, Article 9.5 states that developed countries should communicate their financial contributions on a biennial basis. At the COP23 negotiations, this portion of the Paris Agreement was faced push back by developed nations as they feared the implied financial commitments that the article carries.

On Friday, 17th November, I attended an open-ended consultation on the Article 9.5 issue early in the day. Conclusions and consensus could not be achieved, so the session was adjourned by the presidency, represented by Fiji Chief Negotiator, Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan. She called for a meeting between the heads of delegation later in the day. Thomas and I made it a point to be early.

We arrived at Santiago de Chile about 15 minutes before the heads of delegation session was scheduled to start. The room at the time was relatively empty. Half an hour goes by and the room slowly fills with people, from parties and from CSOs, until the room is at capacity. Thomas and I proceed to give up our seats and go to sit on the floor in the back of the room. This was a high-level meeting and we wanted to keep a low profile in case anyone deemed us undeserving of being in the room. In the end, us sitting on the floor made no difference, as a lady from the UNFCCC secretariat came over to us to kick us out of the room. We had every right to be there, but unfortunately the room was just way too full for people who were not part of a delegation to be in the room.

With our heads hung low, and feeling absolutely dejected, we left the room, along with a few other people. We stood outside the room for a solid 10 to 15 minutes, hoping there was a way for us to get back in. As we saw more people come to the session only to be turned away by the security guards, the hope started to fade. The guards were so firm that they even prevented the lead negotiator from Egypt from entering. At that point, Thomas and I decided to call it a night and head to a closing dinner with the rest of our MYD teammates. We felt like we were ending our COP23 experience on a low and felt quite disappointed for the rest of the night. Thankfully for us, our COP23 journey didn’t end there and little did we know, it was only the beginning of a long night ahead for us.

 

Written by Mike

Edited by Varun

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