HOW WILL COP 18 WORK?
WHERE IS THE BULK OF THE POLITICAL ACTION AND IN WHICH NEGOTIATING GROUPS ARE
DECISIONS FINALLY MADE?
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SESSIONS AND EVENTS AT A COP AND WHICH ARE OPEN TO
HOW DO YOU FIND OUT WHAT IS HAPPENING?
WHAT IS WORTH COVERING?
WHAT ARE THE COP 18 HIGHLIGHTS?
WHAT ARE THE MAIN COUNTRY NEGOTIATING GROUPINGS?
WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE AVAILABLE?
HOW DO I GET ACCREDITATION?
1) JARGON BUSTER
A full glossary of key terms
is available on the UNFCCC website, but the below are the most essential.
COP - Conference of the Parties. Essentially the supreme
body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); meets annually.
CMP - Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting
of the Parties to the Kyoto
Protocol. The Protocol's top body; meets annually at the same time as the COP.
AWG-KP - One of two major negotiating groups. The
AWG-KP focuses on negotiating further legally-binding commitments for Annex I Parties beyond 2012.
Attended by the 37 industrialised Annex I countries, plus other Parties to the Protocol and Parties to the
Convention who did not ratify Kyoto but may attend as observers.
AWG-LCA - established in Bali in 2007 to conduct
negotiations on a strengthened international deal on climate change, which was to be concluded at COP 15 in
Copenhagen in 2009. The work of the AWG-LCA has been extended three times by a year since COP 15.
Governments agreed in 2011 in Durban that the group would conclude its work in Doha.
AWG-ADP - The objective of the AWG-ADP is to negotiate a
global climate change agreement to be adopted by 2015 and to enter into force from 2020, and how to raise
current inadequate global ambition to deal with climate change, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions
fast enough so that the world has chance of staying below the agreed maximum 2 degree Celsius temperature
SBSTA - Subsidiary Body for Scientific and
Technological Advice. Serves as a link between information and assessments provided by expert sources (such
as the IPCC, responsible for compiling the world's
government-approved science) and the COP, which focuses on setting policy.
SBI - Subsidiary Body for Implementation. The SBI
makes recommendations on policy and implementation issues to the COP and, if requested, to other bodies.
PLENARY - A formal meeting of the entire COP, CMP or one of its subsidiary bodies.
REDD - Reducing emissions from
deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.
LULUCF - Land use, land-use
change, and forestry. A greenhouse gas inventory sector that covers emissions and removals of greenhouse
gases resulting from direct human-induced land use, land-use change and forestry activities.
PARTY - A Party in the international negotiating context is either a country or a regional economic
integration organisation. There is only one Party which is not a country in the UNFCCC context, and that is
the European Union. The 27 members of the European Union meet to agree on common negotiating positions. The
country that holds the EU Presidency – a position that rotates every six months – then speaks
for the European Union and its 27 member states. As a regional economic integration organization, the
European Union itself can be, and is, a Party to the Convention. However, it does not have a separate vote
from its members. The host government expects around 17 thousand people to attend COP18. Around half of
these are delegates of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, so
from 194 States plus the European Union.
MEETINGS - Major bodies such as the COP and CMP (see glossary), chaired by senior government figures, meet
in the large conference halls. Alongside these major meetings, there are a plethora of other negotiating
sessions organised in such a way that wherever possible delegations from individual countries can organise
their teams to attend without clashing timetables in what is a demanding schedule. These range from groups
(often called informal or contact groups) focusing on issues from the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) to
the Adaptation Fund and REDD. These negotiating/contact groups then feed back to plenaries. The Chairs and
their teams consolidate all views expressed from the floor into negotiating texts which are then fed back
to the delegations.
NGOs - NGOs are non-governmental
organisations. They can for example represent business (BINGOs), or environmental organisations (ENGOs).
Special rules have been developed over time under the Convention defining what role NGOs can play, what
sessions they can attend, whether they can make submissions and so on. Details of these are available on
the UNFCCC website. Other NGOs seek to track the delegations and to report on the process.
SIDE EVENTS AND
EXHIBITS - Alongside the formal negotiations and informal talks are numerous side events and exhibits.
The list of side events is published daily, shown on the CCTV monitors and available on the UNFCCC website.
2) HOW WILL COP 18 WORK?
A COP is a hybrid. It is principally a negotiating forum. But it is also a technical conference where
expert bodies under the Convention debate methodological issues relating to climate science and the climate
process, which in turn form the basis for political decision-making. At the same time it is part climate
change expert meeting with a range of side events and exhibits, attracting key members from governments and
civil society who professionally deal with climate change on a regular basis. The COP is, however, first
and foremost the place where the Parties to the UNFCCC make decisions, often pre-prepared in the months and
weeks of preceding talks and negotiations.
3) WHERE IS THE BULK OF THE POLITICAL ACTION AND IN WHICH NEGOTIATING GROUPS
ARE DECISIONS FINALLY MADE?
- COP (Conference of the Parties,195 Parties)
- COP/CMP (COP serving as meeting to the Kyoto Protocol -193 Parties)
- AWG-KP (founded 2005, 194 Parties)
- AWG-ADP (founded in 2011, 195 Parties)
- AWG-LCA (founded 2007, 195 Parties)
- SBSTA and associated Contact/Expert Groups
- SBI and associated Contact/Expert Groups
(See above for the definitions)
Note: It will be the COP and CMP that actually adopt decisions.
4) WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SESSIONS AND EVENTS AT A COP AND WHICH
ARE OPEN TO JOURNALISTS?
- Opening ceremonies – first day of the conference and first day of the high-level segment (open)
- Plenary (open)
- Informal/Contact groups (not open)
- Other "Meetings", (e.g. G-77 and China, AOSIS, LDC) including Bilaterals and Observer
Organisations (not open)
- Side events (open)
- Happenings (e.g. Fossil of the Day award) (open)
In addition, there are numerous daily press conferences. CCTV Monitors and the Daily Programme indicate
whether sessions are open or closed.
5) HOW DO YOU FIND OUT WHAT IS HAPPENING?
- CCTV Monitors
- iPhone app "COP 18 Navigator"
- Daily programme (UNFCCC)
- ECO Newsletter (published by Climate Action Network International)
Earth Negotiations Bulletin (IISD)
- Twitter accounts @CFigueres, @UN_climatetalks
- UNFCCC on Facebook
6) WHAT IS WORTH COVERING?
Whilst the opening ceremonies and
the high-level segment at the end of the conference attract high-level government participation, newsworthy
events take place on a daily basis. Such events are press briefings (up to fourteen on a single day) for
example on the part of governments, environmental organisations and UN bodies. These media briefings give
an update on the status of the negotiations, are used to announce key decisions, lay out negotiating
positions to the public and launch newsworthy studies which relate to the negotiations. The UN Climate
Change Secretariat briefs the press during the most intense phase of the negotiations (usually daily in the
second week of the COP and three or four times during the first week). In addition, press releases will be
issued by the UNFCCC and other organisations.
Side-events have the potential to generate interesting news stories, are not only given by multilateral
organisations, governments and NGOs, but for example academia and industry associations. As far as the
political proceedings of the COP/CMP are concerned, it should be noted that concluding negotiations usually
go well into the night of the final day of the conference. The Saturday of the first week of the COP is a
regular working day. The Sunday of the first week is often used for field trips organised by NGOs and/or
the host government. The conference venue is usually closed on the Sunday of the first week.
7) WHAT ARE THE COP 18 HIGHLIGHTS?
Opening ceremonies, from 10:00 a.m.
Opening ceremony of the high-level segment of COP 18 and CMP 8 with a high-level UN official, heads
of State and government, ministers
Closing plenaries (adoption of decisions). Note: the closing plenary can continue into the early or
late morning of 8 December
8) WHAT ARE THE MAIN COUNTRY NEGOTIATING GROUPINGS?
Countries with similar interests and viewpoints tend to negotiate in groups. This enables a single country
to speak on behalf of a wider coalition of countries. This helps save negotiating time. The positions of
the respective groups are jointly developed in meetings before and during the COP. Further information on
Groupings is on the UNFCCC website.
Main developing countries ("non-Annex I") negotiating groups:
AOSIS. The Alliance of Small Island States and low-lying
countries sharing similar developmental and environmental concerns. AOSIS has a membership of 42 States
African Group. with 53 members
G-77 and China. has 132 members and the chairmanship rotates on
a regional basis (between Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean) and is held for one year in
all the Chapters. The chair will often speak for the whole group including China if China was present,
but where the sub-members such as Least Developed
Countries (LDCs) or AOSIS have different positions, they will
Main industrialized country ("Annex I") negotiating groups
- Umbrella group: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the
- EU: European Union, 27 countries
A case of its own:
Environmental Integrity Group: Switzerland + Mexico and South Korea (both OECD)
9) WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE AVAILABLE?
- Press releases
- UNFCCC Fact sheets and publications
- (Draft) decisions
The secretariat, together with the Integrated Sustainable PaperSmart Services (ISPS) secretariat, is
adopting the United Nations PaperSmart services for COP 18/CMP 8. Pre-session and in-session official
documentation for the Conference will be issued digitally through the ISPS portal PaperSmart.un.org, flash drives, etc. in the six official United Nations
languages. Delegates/participants are encouraged to use their laptops/mobile devices, including tablets, to
view and/or download Conference documentation.
UNFCCC official documents, statements and the Daily Programme will be available through PaperSmart.
10) HOW DO I GET ACCREDITATION?
Accreditation is done through the online media accreditation and
registration system. This system allows each individual seeking media accreditation to create a
personal account, enter personal data and upload required documentation. Applicants can check the status of
their requests online by utilizing the login information received when the profile is created. Online
accreditation is now the official and only channel to obtain registration for the media for a
conference or event. The deadline for application is 21 November 2012.
Media accreditation for UNFCCC conferences is strictly reserved for members of the press (print, photo,
radio, TV, film, news agencies and online media) who represent a bona fide media organization (formally
registered as a media organization in a country recognized by the United Nations General Assembly).
Accreditation will only be given on proof of a track record of reporting for media organizations on
international affairs, specifically climate change.
More important information on the accreditation process is available in the press accreditation section
of the UNFCCC website, including detailed FAQs.
 The UN Committee for Development Policy sets the criteria for a country to be
classified as "least developed". The current list of LDCs includes 48 countries.