Time is a strange thing at climate negotiations. From the outside, it might seem that two weeks is a fairly long time; inside, it can feel like meetings are over in a flash. Days fill up with back-to-back sessions. The line between today and yesterday blurs. Lack of sleep doesn’t help.
But how much time do you need for real progress? Discussions on some issues, such as agriculture, are notorious for overstretching their allocated time. For other issues, such as emissions from aviation and shipping fuel, agreement is out of sight no matter how many sessions get allocated. Time, as they say, is nobody’s friend.
Time management surfaced as a tricky issue in several discussions on Monday. In discussions on arrangements for intergovernmental meetings, several delegates reaffirmed everyone’s responsibility to stick to the allotted speaking time to avoid meetings running over. Observers had expressed great frustration over the fact that, by the time they spoke during the opening plenary, it was to a largely empty room: party representatives had left for the night. The US called upon parties to give observers the courtesy of staying and listening to their statements, and the European Union supported having observer statements alternate with those by individual parties, following group statements.
Running out of time is the bugbear of tricky agenda items. Negotiators addressing reporting and transparency issues were hopeful that extra sessions would go a long way towards forwarding clean text to the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27). The first week took steps towards ironing out the transition between reporting under the Convention and the Paris Agreement—always keeping an eye out for the need to “future proof” the process in case of a future withdrawal from the Agreement. Given some earnest engagement over bridging proposals, there is hope that additional time will in this case actually do the trick.