CCL’s signature policy, of carbon fee and dividend, struggles to get the attention it deserves from the people who need to know about it. It may not be much comfort but we’re not alone in promoting a good idea that, like me when I try to order beer at a bar, seems to be all but invisible.

The invisible-good-idea I came across last night was the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP). Perhaps it’s well known to many people but I’d never heard of it and it’s been running since COP-11 in 2012. NWP’s mission is to develop and communicate the knowledge needed for low-income nations (in particular) to cope with the impacts of climate change. What could be more essential?

NWP is due for a stocktake in mid-2022 and the session I was at discussed what form that should take. A very clear message came through that the NWP needs to demonstrate effectiveness. It must show that it is having an impact. And there was significant, diplomatically expressed, scepticism over whether it would pass such a test. One group of nations went so far as to say that even the “national focal points” (i.e. the people responsible for disseminating information in each country) didn’t really know what knowledge-products were available, let alone farmers in remote villages without access to electricity or the internet.

I should emphasise that everyone was highly supportive of NWP. I just detected frustration that it was struggling to get its messages out. There was, for example, a lot of discussion around virtual-meetings and digital-tools with some saying these would help the communications issues whilst others worried that they were not appropriate approaches for the “primary consumers” (i.e. poor farmers).

So this was a constructive and informative session–the sort of thing I’d been hoping to see all week–but this impression was spoiled a little at the end.

The co-convenor of the session summed up by saying they would prepare an informal note summarising everyone’s positions. She then proposed that an additional session be held, next week, to ensure that everyone’s views really were in the informal note. Oh dear! Nations and groups of nations immediately split into those who thought an extra session was a great idea and those for whom this was the worst follow-up suggestion since Mama-Mia 2.

This brought me back to my normal consternation about what’s happening and why in these meetings. Why would anyone object to a final meeting to check that everyone is happy? Surely, if anyone has concerns about the direction of travel, this would be the ideal way to spot and correct any such worries. Once again I find myself in cynic territory. The only reason I can think to block this is to slow things down by unnecessarily pushing that meeting into COP-26.

Dave Waltham