Inside the Negotiations to Decide the Fate of Our Planet

Now the hard work begins. Delegates can now get to the business of the conference, which is negotiations, as global leaders leave COP26 in Glasgow. This process is more technical than the pledges made by leaders earlier in the week. It delivers the rules, compromises and commitments that will guide countries to take climate action. This is the place to be if we are going to save the world from climate catastrophe.
The start of this COP was not easy. Many have waited in long lines to gain entry to the venue and pass security. Civil society groups have also criticised the inaccessibility they have to the talks this season, despite repeated assurances by Alok Sharma, president of COP26 that it would be the most inclusive COP yet.

The experience at COP for negotiators is similar to that at an airport. You can stay awake all night, forget to take your time, and even miss your meals. You are exhausted and sleep-deprived so you have to weigh your priorities against the delegate from the other country. It is tiring and tensions can start to build up by the end.

It's a lot of work, according to Agripina Jenkins Rojas a Costa Rican negotiator. She represents the group of Latin American countries and Caribbean countries known as AILAC at COP26. You get so tired and exhausted that you don't have the energy to do other things.

Talks stop. Negotiators must review draft texts and make sure they reflect their position correctly. They can also attend informal gatherings with countries to discuss their positions or relay information to their country delegation. It is impossible to know what day it really is. It is possible to forget what day it is. Parties often feel they aren't being respected simply because their position isn't well represented in the documents. They will become heated. It has happened to me.

There are many negotiating streams at the COP. These are basically spin-out sessions from the main plenary, where technical experts try and reach agreements that all countries will sign. The transparency stream is where delegates will be tasked to find consensus on how countries will disclose their progress in climate change reporting, which is one of many important issues being discussed at COP26. Jenkins Rojas says transparency is essential to the Paris Agreement. If transparency isn't done properly, we won't be able to know exactly how countries are moving forward with their Paris Agreement commitments.

The 60-70 people that work in the negotiation rooms produce a text which is then sent back to the main plenary. Lia Nicholson (lead negotiator of the Alliance of Small Island States) group of countries says she is concerned about accessibility to the conference because of the long lines daily to get to the venue. She says this has an impact on the coordination of our positions across various issues.