COP21 Negotiations Enter Final Stage
Those following the COP21 negotiations during the last three scheduled days have witnessed interesting developments. On December 8th, in the middle of an intense week of debates, a “high-ambition coalition” emerged. Representing more of 100 countries, the alliance apparently had been in the works since previous intergovernmental preparatory meetings for the COP. The group includes developing countries (with notable exceptions China and India), the United States, and all of EU member states.
The coalition initially pushed for an ambitious, legally binding global agreement with a clear long-term objectives on limiting global-warming that are in line with scientific consensus. The agreement included emissions stocktaking processes every five years and the creation of a unified system to assess countries’ progress on meeting their carbon goals.
Marshall Islands’ Foreign Affairs Minister Tony de Brum, recognized as one of the initiators of the process, described the alliance as a bridge to a final agreement. “The coalition waited until it could have the most impact to make its work public,” he said. Countries presented “eight points of convergence” as evidence of the capacity of developed and developing countries to work together. “These negotiations are not about them and us. They are about all of us, developed and developing countries,” said Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Union climate commissioner.
Based on these development, on the afternoon of December 9th a new version of the draft Paris agreement was presented. After parties reviewed it, COP21 President Laurent Fabius convened two processes: the first, an indaba on differentiation, finance and ambition, that he directly faciliated; the second, a consultation on issues that still required work such as loss and damage, response measures, cooperative approaches and mechanisms, facilitated by COP20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s Minister of Environment.
Throughout the day, COP President Laurent Fabius acknowledged the progress made on capacity building, adaptation, transparency, and technology development and transfer, but he called for additional work on the issues that still require progress. Participants commended the efforts of the French Presidency and the facilitators on the UNFCCC Secretariat as constructive conversations emerged on key issues previously ignored. However, obstacles persist on areas such as the cap on temperature increase, the goal of zero emissions, finance, loss and damage, future improvements to the deal, and differentiation of responsibilities.
Sessions on December 9th concluded with decisions on methods for working on the last part of the negotiations and discussions on initial reactions to the text. Despite concerns, there was a general sense of the text being an important foundation for the end of the negotiations.
As this blog goes to press, a new draft of the agreement is expected at COP21 for the afternoon of December 10th (UTC+1). Some actions still require political definitions, but most remain confident in the ministerial processes. The new, shorter draft is expected ahead of Friday’s deadline. “It will be an important step, I hope, but not yet the final result,” Fabius said.
The success of COP21 is based on agreement on the key issues that have been at the core of UNFCCC negotiations for the past two decades. So far, analysts perceive that some important bargaining and debate is taking place that is preventing parties from digressing to state-based positions. COP21 is seen as the last chance to avert the worst consequences of climate change and human effects on emissions, droughts, floods, rising sea levels and other natural disasters.
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