Small island states at COP26: What it’s like to negotiate in Glasgow on behalf of small island nations

After a troublesome two weeks on the Glasgow summit, local weather negotiators from small island nations replicate on their experiences.


13 November 2021

A delegate from the Marshall Islands at the COP26 summit on Thursday.

A delegate from the Marshall Islands on the COP26 summit on Thursday.

Alastair Grant/AP/Shutterstock

Local weather summits are lengthy, advanced and emotionally taxing. However for negotiators hailing from the island states going through the worst impacts of local weather change proper now, these talks are vital to the every day lives of everybody they love.

“It’s two weeks away from your loved ones, from your mates, consuming very dangerous meals and never sleeping,” says Kristin Qui, a negotiator for Trinidad and Tobago, on the ultimate Friday of negotiations on the COP26 local weather summit.

On Thursday she began work at 8am and completed negotiations at 10pm. “That was an early end,” she says. For the final two weeks she says she has averaged about six hours of sleep.

Qui is negotiating on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States coalition (Aosis) on the COP26 local weather summit. It’s a coalition of 39 international locations – largely from the Caribbean and South Pacific, together with Jamaica, Cuba, Fiji and Antigua and Barbuda.

“We’re a gaggle of very small international locations that don’t have a major quantity of political leverage,” says Frances Fuller, a negotiator for Antigua and Barbuda. “However now we have power in numbers and the ethical excessive floor – although that’s typically not sufficient to maneuver the needle.”

“Negotiations aren’t solely bodily exhausting however emotionally exhausting too,” says Qui. “However it’s important to compartmentalise as a result of in the event you interact with that exhaustion your physique goes to be like – I can’t do that anymore.”

Local weather negotiations comprise each public conferences and personal talks. In public conferences, international locations say which elements of the proposed local weather deal they do and don’t like. “It’s the place the theatrics occur,” Qui says.

In the meantime smaller, closed-door conferences revolve round particular subjects similar to local weather finance and emission pledges and are moderated by facilitators. Qui for instance has spent the summit negotiating Article 6 of the Paris Settlement which particulars how carbon markets will work.

“However the true discussions occur in casual conferences the place there aren’t any facilitators,” she says.

These usually occur late at night time, says Qui. Fuller says that on Thursday night time she needed to get your hands on a South African negotiator by way of the convention centre so they might have one remaining dialogue about emission-cutting measures.

“There’s a whole lot of rhetoric from leaders in regards to the significance of 1.5 levels and the significance of science,” says Fuller. “However then if you get right down to a number of the technical discussions… there are different events within the room that simply wish to erase any references to any basis of actual science.”

It takes effort to remain calm. “Right here I’ve a job to do and if I had been to enter hysterics proper now – no person would take heed to me,” she says.  Again at dwelling nonetheless, she says, that is more durable to do. “If you see that not sufficient is being completed – you possibly can’t compartmentalise,” she says.

Pearnel P Charles Junior is Jamaica’s surroundings minister and one of many co-facilitators of the negotiations. Very like Qui and Fuller, he says he has a job to do. “I don’t have time to be apprehensive about who doesn’t get it [the severity of climate change],” he says. “I’ve to be concentrating and making certain they get it earlier than we go away.”

“If these negotiations weren’t troublesome – we wouldn’t want two weeks,” he provides. “I didn’t come right here with an expectation of getting some type of grand good affair… we’re pushing each second for a COP that’s profitable so that every one our kids and all of our grandchildren… will look on what we did right here and see that we saved them and never that we failed them.”

Though COP26 was as a consequence of end yesterday, the summit’s third draft agreement was launched this morning and it’s hoped that the ultimate pact shall be revealed later at this time.

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