A morning in the Bula Zone

COP23 is based on the principles of “one conference, two zones”, this means that there are two distinctively different areas of the conference. The Bonn Zone is where we have our Walker Institute stand and most of the side events are being held. This is to highlight the importance of the work done by NGOs in facilitating the real climate action. However, it is over in the Bula Zone that the official business of the COP is taking place with the negations of the different agenda items of the Paris Agreement and other international Climate Policy.

As Official Observers we are able to access, and observe, some of these negotiations and a relatively quiet morning over in the Bonn Zone gave me an opportunity to spend some time exploring what goes on over in Bula.

Being part of a research institute our main point of contact with these processes is the RINGO (Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organisations) meetings held every morning at 9am. These meetings give a summary of what is going on during that day and what was achieved the previous day. Through the RINGO affiliation people can get tickets to some of the closed negotiations and then report back to the group. Today those who had attended ticketed APA (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement) summarised how the conference was starting off, which appears to be slowly as groups are mostly planning out how they're going to address their agenda items during the rest of the conference.

I attended a meeting of the SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice) informal consultation on research and systematic observations. The set-up of this meeting is a square table with a representative of the Secretariat and two co-facilitators, with representatives of the parties of a number of different countries. Observers were then sat around the edges of the room.

The meeting was focused on a draft text produced after the first meeting of the COP titled: SBSTA 47 agenda item 8, Matters relating to science and review, Research and systematic observations. This document had been circulated to the representatives before the meeting so that they could pick through it and bring their issues to the table.

Starting with general statements on the text one of the co-facilitators would call on countries as the requested to speak. Jamaica wanted to include more on the importance of data for equating loss and damage, while other countries felt it was important to recognise the ocean more and wanted more detail in the section on ocean observations.

We then got down into the nitty-gritty of the meeting with most of the hour being taken up discussing one section of the draft which published data on global CO2 concentrations, average temperature trends and sea level rise. Many countries were concerned that this was too much detail for a report like this and didn't understand why these specific metrics were used. There was also a discussion about the time frame of the data and what “pre-industrial” actually meant. It was interesting to see how much time is spent deciding on what goes into every single section of each piece of material and the difficulties presented by so many different options. Jamaica felt that the inclusion of numbers added a real urgency and power so didn't want them removed. With the hour running out it was decided that the co-facilitators would collate all the views and re-draft this point with discussions tomorrow continuing with the rest of the draft.