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The opening plenary of the AWG-KP started with the speech from Christiana Figueres in which she offered her sympathy and solidarity to the people of Japan, to those in Thailand suffering from the floods in the southern part, and to those who suffer from natural disasters. In order to remember those who be suffering the direct and devastating impacts of climate change a minute of silence was observed.

In her speech the head of the UNFCCC further highlighted that although Cancun agreements were a breakthrough for this process much work and political progress needs to be addressed. She stated “we will all need to make valiant efforts for sure results in Durban. Secretariat is in the process of setting up the technical support group” and “for MRV: significant developments in modalities to be made this year”

In her view “for Durban to be a success the unaddressed political questions need to be addressed”

Taking the floor the negotiator for Tuvalu requested that those who do not want a second commitment period to leave the plenary. “We do not want to go to side discussion or circular conversations. We need assurance and I am sure many in the private sector need assurance, the citizens of the world needs assurance that the Kyoto Protocol survives”

Bolivia in their turn offered their support to the motion put forward by Tuvalu. (for some reason the negotiator of Bolivia grabs my attention. While having breakfast next to his chair, while he blissfully was aware of the others around him, I was too awed to utter a word to him, though I wanted to tell him that despite all the controversy he creates, he is pretty “awesome”)

Argentina in their speech mentioned “Annex I parties must raise the level of ambitions in their pledges. Second commitment is not only a political imperative but a legal obligation” ( a relief that the term “legal obligation” was used by at least one country. The humour on seeing the face of the negotiator on the screen being that I realised that he was someone who bugged me in the lift or at the hotel entrance on Sri Lanka losing the world cup final, and expressed his sympathy and understanding given how much Argentina is capable of feeling with the Sri Lankans with regards to losing at “world cup finals”)

Speaking next, the African Group stressed the need of “strengthening of Annex one parties commitments” and added that “KP is a legally binding agreement that is ratified by its parties”.

Grenada also associated their statement to that made by Argentina and the statement by the African group. Also proceeded to make all in the plenary laugh when she stated these words on the Thai hosts while the technical staff adjusted her microphone “We thank them for these ideal conditions, their flexibilities, ingenuity which would help us identity solutions and not just negotiate” and wished Japan on their efforts of recovery “Japan, we are impressed by your courage and your recovery”. She also stressed the need for clarity, and added that “time is short to put in place transition that is needed” “Over 20 years ago the developed parties agreed to take the lead in taking action against climate change..When millions of lives are at stake the accelerating impacts of climate change demands an increase in ambition. In Durban we must adopt a decision that establishes a second commitment period .There is a very pressing need to identify any gap between the commitment period. Once we have had clarity on the second commitment we can address everything else”

Taking the floor European Union proceeded to state “we all feel the pressure and the urge to develop a globally binding agreement. We need everyone on board to tackle the enormous challenge ahead of us…In Cancun we made significant progress. We must maintain good momentum towards robust outcomes. We need to start without delay based on the Cancun agreements.We need to establish clear rules to preserve the existing architecture..working in isolation under the KP would not help us to achieve the robust outcomes”

Guatemala in their speech promoted the idea that “this meeting is the start towards our road map to Durban” and also reinforced the necessity for the Kyoto protocol to continue into a second commitment period.

Switzerland’s negotiator seemed one of the few speakers who managed to grasp the attention of all in the plenary. (may be it was due to his intonation, which was quite melodic thanks to his accent, nevertheless), he went onto state “we must focus on the implementation of the Cancun agreement” and he also highlighted the need to work efficiently towards making sure that there is no gap between the first commitment period and the second. He added “we should not shy away from discussing political issues, we need to make progress this year. We have to increase our individual and global and collective measures”

Egypt also associated themselves with the statement made by Argentina while Mexico stated that “dealing with climate change must be dealt gradually”.

Japan in their speech mentioned “we are determined to reconstruct our nation and to make all the possible contribution” and also extended their support to the process.

Tuvalu taking the floor again, expressed their frustration with the technical errors that prevented them from expressing their need to take the floor. “There seems to be a repeated technical error in this room!” Also added “I think you have heard quite clearly from many in this room the way we are proceeding is not appropriate. We see no point in going to break up groups without any political commitment.” And he concluded stating “one could use the term “held hostage” to the process, but I am too polite to use it!”

The contact group for KP will be in session today for the second time at 10 am Bangkok time. Anymore fireworks to be expected from Bolivia or Tuvalu, or any other for that matter? Await!