Fears of spying ramp up as stakes get higher

Los temores de espionaje en el marco de la COP21 en París son cada vez mayores. Los delegados de las negociaciones, realizan sus reuniones en los pasillos ruidosos como precaución puesto que presuntamente en las salas de reuniones oficiales se habrían instalado micrófonos ocultos. Los delegados temen que quienes estén espiando estas conversaciones sean los países desarrollados.

Mientras tanto las negociaciones que buscan cambiar el futuro climático del mundo se desarrollan. En los pasillos se escucha el llamado a mantener la temperatura bajo de 1,5°C, «1,5°C para mantenerse con vida» demandan no solo las pequeñas islas sino muchos países vulnerables. Esperan en su pedido ir más allá del límite de 2°C que se había marcado años anteriores pero que no es suficiente  para mantener el mundo habitable.

Fears of spying ramp up as stakes get higher

Lisa Friedman and Katie Howell, E&E reporters
Published: Friday, December 4, 2015
Delegates to this year’s climate negotiations in Paris are holding their meetings in noisy hallways to avoid suspected threats that official meeting rooms have been bugged.

Three envoys — one from the European Union and two from developing nations — told Climate Home they have legitimate concerns that larger countries are eavesdropping on their conversations.

«No, it wouldn’t surprise me,» said former U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer, who’s now with the Global Green Growth Institute. «If we’re getting to the point where climate negotiators need to be bugged, it’s a sign we are finally getting somewhere.»

The fears aren’t unfounded. During the 2009 summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, the U.S. National Security Agency monitored talks between major nations, according to the documents unveiled by Edward Snowden.

And U.S. State Department officials suspected their computers were hacked during the 2010 Tianjin, China, conference.

Stern calls latest draft ‘step in the right direction’

U.S. envoy Todd Stern spoke to reporters today shortly after the co-chairs of the U.N. climate change negotiating body released a shortened text. He noted that there are still a number of options for each of many issues but said he remains optimistic about getting a deal next week.

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«It’s certainly not the agreement that we’re looking for, but we do think it’s a step in the right direction,» he said.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has set negotiators a noon deadline tomorrow for completing a draft text that will be sent to ministers next week.

They’ll be the ones making final calls on a raft of difficult political issues, from money to how transparent the deal will be.

The United States, Stern said, wants an agreement that is «not watered down and does not go to a lowest common denominator, or a minimalist agreement.»

Getting there won’t be easy. Negotiators have told E&E that countries across the spectrum are sticking to hard and fast positions.

«It’s war,» said one negotiator leaving a meeting last night.

Fabius speaking to reporters today noted that «bridging» proposals have been put forward to help countries find common ground. But, he allowed, «we’re not there yet.»

Islands push for 1.5 degrees

Getting the world’s governments to agree that a Paris deal will aim to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius is one of the top asks of island nations right now.

For the past several days, there has been talk of U.S. opposition, but Stern batted that down today.

«We haven’t landed anywhere yet, but we hear the concern of those countries, and we think the concerns are legitimate,» he said.

The chant in the halls is «1.5 to stay alive.» Not just islands but also least-developed countries and African nations — more than 100 in all — believe it’s critical to move beyond previous goals of keeping temperatures below a 2-degree rise over preindustrial levels. At 2 degrees, many say, everything from coral reefs to crop yields die, putting their countries at deep risk.

But that 2-degree goal was hard-fought back at the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, and some countries are not keen to change it for fear it will put pressure on them to act more ambitiously to slash carbon emissions.

Right now, the biggest obstacles come from India and Saudi Arabia. Those countries even blocked the submission of a study on the topic last night. Ed King at Climate Home reported thoroughly on the kerfuffle.

Blocking the study won’t prevent island nations from getting language that ultimately calls for 1.5 degrees, but it is a sign of how difficult it will be to get the words past the world’s fossil fuel giants.

One island negotiator E&E spoke to said there has been a groundswell of support for 1.5-degree language. While the United States came into Paris opposed, the negotiator said, there have been signals of softening.

Currently, the options toggle between restating the 2-degree goal, putting in 1.5, or language to the effect of aiming to keep temperatures «well below» 2 degrees and «recognizing» the risks associated with allowing global temperatures to rise above 1.5.

Stern noted that it is a «matter of great importance to countries around the world,» adding, «We are in active discussions with the islands and others about finding some way to represent their interest in having a 1.5-degree reference.»

Sen. Schatz stays optimistic

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is in town and told E&E he is optimistic about a deal in Paris.

He also insists the U.S. Senate will deliver on money for the Green Climate Fund — if not this year, then definitely next year.

«I hope and expect that we will do it in this appropriations cycle, but if not in the cycle, the United States always stands behind its financial commitments,» Schatz said.

The United States pledged $3 billion over four years to the fund. The first tranche of that money — $500 million — is expected this year, but Republicans are likely to block it.

Schatz said there is «a reasonably good chance» of retaining the funding this year. If it doesn’t come before a Paris deal is done, he said, it would be a «significant bump in the road, but it’s not like hitting a brick wall.»

Report from Sen. Barrasso blasts White House efforts

On the other side of the pond, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is also weighing in on the summit.

In a new report, Barrasso blasts the Obama administration’s efforts to strike a deal.

«President Obama is so desperate for a climate deal in Paris that he will do anything he can to get one,» Barrasso said in a statement. «This includes undermining U.S. sovereignty and misusing American taxpayer dollars to grease the wheels.»

Specifically, the report says the White House is effectively forcing taxpayers to «pay for past economic success» by contributing to the Green Climate Fund. The report also claims Obama is delivering «false promises» to foreign nations about the United States’ ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions. And it blasts the procedure a likely deal will follow to avoid U.S. Senate ratification.

All of this is «undermining American sovereignty and binding the American people to targets and timetables for greenhouse gas reduction targets in Paris,» a summary of the report says, «threatening jobs, industries and communities at home.»

How to haul 80 metric tons of ice around the world

Parisians yesterday got a chilly reminder about the stakes of the talks.

Visual artist Olafur Eliasson hauled an 80-metric-ton pile of ice from Greenland and dumped it in front of Paris’ Panthéon to slowly melt.

«I hope [this] work of art can actually bridge the gap between the data, the scientists, the politicians and heads of state and how normal people feel,» Eliasson told Reuters of his Ice Watch installation.

So how does one haul 80 metric tons of ice halfway around the world?

The ice from Greenland’s Nuuk Fjord was transported by sea to Denmark in refrigerated containers. Trucks then brought it to Paris, where workers in hard hats moved it into place Wednesday night using forklifts.

Activists call for ‘grown-up’ action

Activists in bibs and baby clothes today urged negotiators to reach a «grown-up» agreement.

The protesters, part of the group Avaaz, used oversized baby blocks to spell out «100 percent Clean» on the pavement outside the summit headquarters near Paris.

«The building blocks are all there. This is simple, we need 100 percent clean, long-term goal. … The leaders have the chance to be adults and deliver this right now,» protester Ermana Ruby Sachs told the Associated Press.

Journalists gamble on when COP 21 will end

Journalists have started taking bets on when negotiators will reach an agreement — or admit defeat — at the Paris climate summit.

Bloomberg BNA reporters Eric Lyman and Dean Scott are organizing one of the pools.

«Want to bet €5 on when #COP21 will end?» Lyman wrote on Twitter. «Come by media center office C-32 to participate. Deadline: Wed. Dec. 9. #COP21End».

Said E&E’s Lisa Friedman, «Put me down for 4 a.m. Sunday, Dean!»

Twitter: @LFFriedman Email: lfriedman@eenews.net


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