Now the real negotiations begin at UN climate conference

Nov 3, 2021, 1:12 AM | Updated: 1:15 pm
FILE - People gather gather at a table inside the venue of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow...

FILE - People gather gather at a table inside the venue of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 2, 2021. For the next 10 days, the professional diplomats at the crowded United Nations climate conference must convert marching orders left by their heads of government into compromises and agreements. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, File)

(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, File)

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — The princes, presidents and prime ministers have left, and now the real mask-to-mask climate negotiations start.

For the next 10 days, maybe more, the professional diplomats at the crowded United Nations climate conference must convert marching orders left by their heads of government into compromises and agreements. The talks happen in a limited number of meeting rooms in Glasgow, with a Friday, Nov. 12, deadline and a record long agenda listing 104 items that must be settled.

The negotiations are restricted by the pandemic but aided by a year and a half of virtual meetings, instant soup brought from Norway and chocolates from Swiss and Australian diplomats.

By next week, the deadline pressure is sure to intensify. Meetings will go around the clock. Food and sleep will be put aside, except when someone dozes off in a seat or on a colleague’s shoulder.

“We have meals together and spend hours cooped up in conference centers with little sleep and bad food. It is a bit of a mad bonding experience, but it builds trust. And trust is key to compromise,” said Environmental Defense Fund Vice President Kelley Kizzier, who spent 15 years as a European Union negotiator.

At least 120 meetings were scheduled for Wednesday, with more likely to be added. But only 25 meeting rooms are available in the sprawling conference complex where half of the structures are temporary, with makeshift roofs and rows of spotless but chilly portable toilets. And those rooms permit a limited number of people inside because of social-distancing rules designed to keep everyone 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) apart.

Between meetings, everyone has to get out for 15 minutes of cleaning, something the Scottish government insists on, said Laura Lopez, the conference administrator for the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, which runs the negotiations on a site that is technically U.N. property.

“The problem is our people aren’t that disciplined,” Lopez said. “They keep talking and won’t leave the room.”

The rooms where it happens are often the rooms next to where it happens.

“The deals are made very often outside of the room,” said longtime negotiator Yamide Dagnet, now head of negotiations for the World Resources Institute. Countries give their positions at the table, but it is in the hallways, during coffee breaks, snatches of meals and other away time that compromises emerge, she said.

That’s why in-person meetings can’t be replaced by virtual ones, said veteran negotiator Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, who chairs one of the two main negotiating groups for the U.N.

“In the hallway, you meet someone, and that’s where you agree on that comma versus that semicolon, and that’s what’s missing” in virtual meetings, he said.

The 18 months of virtual negotiations have brought people closer and made them work together more. But they need to seal the deal in person, said Mpanu Mpanu and Marianne Karlsen, who heads another negotiating group for the U.N.

“People need to sit eye-to-eye,” Karlsen said.

They both credit the pandemic and the months of virtual meetings for improvements over previous meetings.

“I really think the pandemic brought an extra deal of flexibility,” Mpanu Mpanu said.

In past years, the U.N. would put beanbag chairs in meeting rooms and offices for catnaps during the final crunch, Lopez said. But the pandemic killed that this year.

Karlsen said one key to survival is having a supply of snacks, chips, chocolate and fruit — as well her personal contribution.

“I always bring extra luggage with instant soups,” Karlsen said. The Australians and Swiss finance negotiating teams are well known for bringing chocolate.

“And there’s no strings attached,” Mpanu Mpanu said.

When talks go late and people get tired, bigger, richer countries that have extra negotiators have a leg up on smaller nations, he said.

“If you are not on top of your game, people will take advantage of that,” Mpanu Mpanu said.

In the past, negotiators were often joined in the rooms by observers, often from nonprofits. But the talks are now closed to those groups and to the media.

Because of the virus, the U.N. climate office has tried to offer more remote meeting access. With several poorer island nations unable to send negotiators and room occupancy severely limited by health rules, the remote system is crucial, but it has been filled with glitches.

Observers and activists have complained that they can’t get into meetings or watch them online.

The United Kingdom’s largest-ever diplomatic event had the U.N. apologizing for the video glitches, the lack of disability accessibility for an Israeli cabinet member, and for long, slow security lines.

The security lines were slow because 25,000 people have picked up passes. But at any given time, only 10,000 people can be present because of the pandemic, and the lines must be wider and fewer for social distancing, Lopez said. The conference briefly had to stop allowing people in because of the 10,000-person limit.

But hardships are just part of the deal with negotiators, Karlsen said: “There is no easy borne children at this process.”

___

Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate. Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at https://twitter.com/borenbears.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)...
Associated Press

Fish and Wildlife shoots wrong wolf, more attacks confirmed

Wolves from two packs in northeast Washington state have attacked more cattle
9 hours ago
Belgium's Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne is interviewed in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Frida...
Associated Press

6 European nations agree to step up anti-drug cooperation

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Six European countries pledged Friday to beef up their cross-border cooperation and to work more closely with Latin America in fighting organized crime, especially drug barons battling for control of the lucrative cocaine market. The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and Spain made the commitment at a meeting of ministers and officials […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Official: Haiti to seek foreign armed forces to quell chaos

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s government has agreed to request the help of international armed forces as gangs and protesters paralyze the country and basic supplies including fuel and water dwindle, a top ranking Haitian official told The Associated Press on Friday. The official, who was not authorized to speak about the issue publicly, said […]
1 day ago
Low yielding cotton plants grow at sunset, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, near Cotton Center, Texas. Drough...
Associated Press

Drought takes toll on country’s largest cotton producer

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — The cotton harvest is about to get underway in the Texas High Plains, the windswept region that grows most of the crop in the nation’s top cotton-producing state. But Barry Evans, like many others, has already walked away from more than 2,000 acres (809 hectares) of his bone-dry fields. “It just […]
1 day ago
From left, Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker, the Secretary of State for Northern ...
Associated Press

UK, Ireland signal new hope of deal to end Brexit trade feud

LONDON (AP) — Britain and Ireland hailed a new spirit of compromise on Friday in a grinding feud over post-Brexit trade rules, expressing hope of making enough progress in the next three weeks to avoid a destabilizing new election in Northern Ireland. It comes as new British Prime Minister Liz Truss seeks to improve relations […]
1 day ago
Branislav Borenovic, leader of Party of Democratic Progress (PDP), addresses the media after submit...
Associated Press

Bosnia election officials investigate possible vote-rigging

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnia’s election authorities expressed concerns Friday over widespread problems at polling stations and reports of irregularities and vote-rigging in the general election last weekend. They ordered ballot checks at over 1,000 polling stations and promised to investigate all potential failings before certifying the results of the vote. Members of the country’s […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Now the real negotiations begin at UN climate conference