So far this year, there is obviously no civil society in these negotiation rooms. “We can’t participate; we don’t have tickets to participate,” said Tasnim Esop, executive director of the International Climate Action Network (CAN), a major non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring progress in negotiations. “We can’t enter that place.”
Unlike reporters who are not allowed to enter the negotiation room, CAN representatives are usually allowed to enter the meeting by default. Here, they can observe the negotiation and occasionally be invited to speak. But this year, in the name of Covid-19 security, after the arrival of the non-profit organization, it was discovered that the COP organizers had introduced a ticketing system, and the entire CAN International only provided two tickets. This means that only two people from CAN (an organization representing hundreds of smaller organizations) can enter and observe six sessions running in parallel. In short, CAN International “cannot keep up with the negotiation process,” Essop said.
Harjeet Singh, a senior adviser to CAN International and a veteran of climate negotiations, said that the presence of civil society in the negotiation room is essential to increase the pressure on countries to make progress in the negotiations. “If someone behaves incorrectly or engages in any form of arm twisting, then we will get that information and forward it. Then we expose what’s going on inside; it will bring pressure and things will go smoothly.”
Sébastien Duyck, a senior attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), stated that on COP26, observers were unable to enter any meaningful COP area for the first two days, just as all negotiations started. . He said that this is usually the time when observers have the most opportunity to contact, because civil society observers are often asked to leave the room at a later stage when negotiations heat up.
“COP26 got off to a terrible start,” he said. “Based on my past experience with the past 12 COPs, this is unprecedented. For many developing countries, representatives from very difficult situations, due to Covid, the risk of virus return, the need for isolation, etc., now they have to It is ridiculous to live in an overpriced hotel.”
Delegates can enter the negotiation room through a virtual platform, but technical issues prevent many people from entering. On Tuesday, the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat sent an e-mail to the delegates regarding the “inconvenience associated with entering the COP26 venue, whether physically or virtual”. The email statement added that the first few days of COP26 was a “learning process, and participants and staff have become accustomed to the logistical measures and circumstances related to the pandemic.”
But many civil society participants stated that these problems do not just come from necessary Covid-19 measures. “I just feel sorry for it,” Esop said. “Let all of us come here, especially those from the global south, and treat everyone in this disrespectful way when they find that they are actually inaccessible, which means they think people are worthwhile. Nothing and irrelevant.”
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