Keeping Up With the COP
It’s 4am on the penultimate day and the ministers are still at it, debating the wording of the Paris agreement. A few hours ago John Kerry made an appeal for everyone to appreciate the progress made instead of endlessly haggling over minor details. Kerry also apologized for the situation he faces, namely that the US can’t sign any agreement with legally-binding obligations, because it would be blocked by Ted Cruz and co at home. Unfortunately, I was not invited to write and perform a rap summary of this meeting at its conclusion. The participation of rappers is restricted to lower-level meetings at the conference. Still, it’s cool to be here observing at the witching hour.

I have been performing a short “rap up” summary of each day’s meeting of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, a group of countries working to ensure the agreement includes funding for protection and enhancement of forests, an effort that appears to be succeeding. You can watch a video of yesterday's rap up by clicking here.

Last night I was sitting in the main UN plenary hall as country after country made their official statement on the current draft of the agreement, lining up on either side of a now-familiar set of conflicts. Barbados says the 1.5º limit is a matter of survival, Australia calls for greater flexibility, Angola stresses the need for stable and predictable financing, Guatemala requires provisions for loss and damage, Saudi Arabia rules out carbon pricing to protect its economy, Panama insists on protection and support for forests, Malaysia affirms the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, and yours truly was caught on the overhead screens taking a selfie over the left shoulder of the negotiator from Cameroon.

Each day has a similar schedule. There are high level meetings, then a new draft of the text is released, followed by a flurry of activity as the countries and coalitions break up into smaller meetings to discuss the changes (which is where I do my thing), and then everyone reconvenes into the larger session to make proposals for new wording. But over time the text is gradually improving and continues to zero in on an agreement. Everyone is extremely appreciative of Laurent Fabius the conference president, including several calls for him to win a Nobel Peace Prize. At the moment ministers are debating whether the target global temperature rise should be limited to below 1.5º or below 2º with addition efforts to get below 1.5º as soon as possible. In less than 24 hours the fate of the world will be decided.

This afternoon I performed a rap interpretation of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical earlier this afternoon, with former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and other religious leaders in the (very small) audience. They posted a video of the performance as part of the UNFCCC live stream, and I re-posted it here. The theme of the event was making common cause across science and religions for climate action. Hey, I did my best.