Yesterday was my first day back in the office since November. I’m afraid this left no time for a blog but, on the plus side, that now gives me an opportunity to contrast the last two days. In one sense, the last two nights of negotiations have been similar in that I was equally confused on both occasions. But the cause of the confusion was utterly different.

I spent Thursday night’s session hearing more about the problems agreeing on common time frames for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). I already wrote about this in my Day-2 blog and, when I say I spent the session hearing MORE about it, that is not strictly true. What I actually heard was exactly the same arguments all over again. No progress seemed to have been made at all! This confuses me for the reasons I set out in that earlier blog; I just don’t understand why this is such a difficult topic to reach agreement on-especially as all parties agree it’s important to have common time frames and they’re merely arguing over the exact timing.

Friday night’s confusion arose from something else entirely. It was a case of “be careful what you wish for”. I’ve complained in these blogs that little of the negotiation seems to be about getting down to technical details rather than about political posturing. Well the session, on “reporting and accounting for GHG and non-GHG co-operation under Paris 6.2” (I’m abbreviating a bit) was about as technical as any policy-wonk could wish for. I didn’t stand a chance.

At one point one of my fellow observers asked me if I could repeat the last two points made by the Russian delegation as he had not been able to write everything down fast enough. I had to admit that I’d missed them too but what I didn’t tell him was that was because I was busy reading a Wikipedia page in a forlorn attempt to get my head around “non-GHG ITMOs and OMG”.

If you’re interested (and who wouldn’t be?) ITMO is an Internationally Traded Mitigation Outcome (e.g. an Emissions trading scheme that covers multiple nations) , non-GHG means it’s a traded mitigation outcome that doesn’t directly involve a greenhouse gas (e.g. the UK buying nuclear electricity from France) and OMG is not “Oh My God!” but Overall Mitigation of Greenhouse Emissions (in other words any such trading must lead to an overall reduction in emissions).

Well I got that far, but I never did really understand how trading of non-GHGs impacts on NDCs. After 2 hours, my head exploded and I went to bed.

Dave Waltham