Skip to main content

U.N. Climate Summit: BINGOs, ENGOs, and RINGOs at Center Stage

This morning I arrived at the Pozna? conference center bright and early and joined the massive cue through security and to obtain the official badge that will gain me access to all the events over the next two weeks (and free passage on Pozna?'s public transport system!).

There is always something exhilarating about arriving at COP for the first day. The energy is palpable, and already in the early morning the halls are pulsating with people from every corner of the world. From dreadlocked college students and government dignitaries, to business leaders, protestors, NGO leaders and indigenous group representatives, it's a diverse and inspiring group, and you can almost always count on a memorable encounter with someone new or interesting daily.

As expected, the official policy talks are already well underway. The morning sessions dealt with a variety of issues, including how to structure and finance projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and land degradation (REDD), whether to continue allowing projects that reduce hydrofluorocarbons (byproducts of refrigerant gas manufature) under the Clean Development Mechanism, and capture and storage (CCS) project viability under the CDM. The REDD debates were heated and lengthy, taking up much of the morning, with many of the indigenous groups opposing REDD. Some countries were also opposed to HFC-23 and CCS projects being developed for the CDM. For EcoSecurities, this policy "intel" is crucial, as it will helps us understand the policy risks associated with developing greenhouse gas emission reducing projects in these sectors.

In the afternoon, there was an informal workshop on "long-term coordinated action" (remember this track of the negotiations from yesterday's post), where delegations were allowed to present their visions on how to develop and structure a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Representatives from countries ranging from Brazil and Ghana to Japan and the Bahamas spoke, with some commonalities slowly emerging amongst a majority of them, such as "reductions for Annex I countries and substantial deviation from baseline emissions for non-Annex I Countries." Operationalizing these positions will be the difficult task as the negotiators seek to translate the Bali Roadmap into a Copenhagen agreement.

Alongside the official negotiations is a world of "side events" run by BINGOs (business and industry non-governmental organizations (NGO)), ENGOs (environmental NGOs), and RINGOs (research and independent NGOs). After the negotiations, I made the rounds at some of these informal sessions. I attended events ranging from "Principles and procedures for technology transfer mechanisms" hosted by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), to "Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in Europe" hosted by the European Commission.

For the business community at COP, the "side event" world provides an opportunity to engage with other businesses, NGOs, thought leaders and policy makers, to discover potential business opportunities, and to present on and learn more about new issues. For example, at the CCS debate the importance of public education and acceptance of CCS on the path to deployment was discussed -- an important issue for this and other emerging technologies that will only grow more pressing as industrial-scale commercialization approaches.

After an evening of some good Polish fare I'm ready to hit the sack and start fresh tomorrow, when I'll continue to monitor the official negotiations, and will be speaking at a side event on the release of the International Emissions Trading Association's GHG Report. Do widzenia till then!

Aimee Barnes is senior manager of U.S. regulatory affairs at EcoSecurities, a company working to mitigate climate change through projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally.

More on this topic