HOW WILL COP 17 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 17 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 - The second major negotiating
group. The AWG-LCA was 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. The work
of the AWG-LCA was extended by a year at COP 15, and then again by a year in Cancun in 2010. The group will
report back to the COP in Durban.
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. Well over ten thousand people are due to attend COP 17. Around half
of these are delegates of Parties to the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, so from 194 States plus the
MEETINGS - Major bodies such as the COP and CMP, 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. Further
information is available in our fact sheets and
a comprehensive explanation can be found in the UNFCCC publication: A Guide to the Climate Change
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 17 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 of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol -193 Parties)
- AWG-LCA (founded 2007, 195 Parties)
- AWG-KP (founded 2005, 194 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 17 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
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 can 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 17 HIGHLIGHTS?
Opening ceremonies, from 10:00 a.m.
Opening ceremony of the high-level segment of COP 17 and CMP 7 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 10 December
The Daily Programme can be picked up at the Documents Distribution Counter.
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 Party 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 speak separately.
Main industrialized country (“Annex I”) negotiating groups
- · Umbrella group: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation,
Ukraine and the United States
- · 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
10) HOW DO I GET ACCREDITATION?
The UNFCCC secretariat has introduced a new, fully online media accreditation and registration system. This
system will allow 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 16 November 2011.
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
 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