COP21 Paris

Climate negotiations: where we stand after one week

8 December Dec 2015 1638 08 December 2015
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The CIDSE delegation at COP 21 has been following the development of the climate negotiations from inside Le Bourget conference centre, advocating for a fair and just deal, convinced that addressing climate change is essential to tackle poverty and inequality.

As we reported at the beginning of the week, the conference started with some encouraging words from leaders. We were positively surprised by statements like the one by US President Obama who said: “We know the truth that many nations have contributed little to climate change but will be the first to feel its most destructive effects.” This made us hope that countries are ready to take on the responsibilities of their climate change impacts. Many leaders also quoted Laudato Si, endorsing a vision of climate justice which puts the vulnerable at the centre.

Yesterday was marked by the delivery of the draft Paris Outcome text by the ADP to ministers, which has been considered as a landmark achievement, reached after 4 years of intense negotiations. (Brief aside for people who are not familiar with COP language: ADP stands for Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. It is a body that was established in December 2011 with the mandate to develop a text to be adopted at COP 21 and to be implemented from 2020.). The French presidency now assumes the leadership of the 21st Conference of the Parties which just got underway. At the ADP closing plenary we had a sense that parties are moving forward, but we were struck, as many other people in the room, by the intervention of a Malaysian representative, who reminded to the audience that we shouldn’t forget the principles of CBDRRC (common but differentiated responsibilities and respected capabilities) and equity. He pointed out that comparing 1992 levels with the ones of today, inequality has increased. He reminded us that the tragic issue of poverty still persists, and that addressing climate change also means addressing poverty and inequality.

Regarding the state of the text, after these few days of negotiations in Paris only small changes were made, as well as little advancement in some of the key issues CIDSE is working on: human rights is currently in the preamble and the operational part of the draft outcome text which need to be secured; as per food security the language must be kept in the operative part of the Paris Outcome (mitigation, finance) and in the preamble as an overarching principle whereas references to “food production and food distribution” must be removed.

Climate finance will likely unlock (or not!) the design of the Paris Outcome. Though what is keeping things from moving forward of course is the issue of differentiation (which isn't just to do with financing but is a cross-cutting issue). Developed countries are trying hard to broaden the commitment of financing for developing countries (a commitment firmly embedded in the Convention, and then quantified to rich countries mobilising and providing a 100bn by 2020 in Copenhagen) to include other countries that they think have the capacity to pay. While developing countries having not seen much of the tooted 100bn being delivered think any obligations for providing finance to developing countries to not only cope and adapt to climate change but also transition to sustainable consumption and production of energy lies soley with the developed countries (those with the historical responsibility and most capacity to pay). The worst offenders of course are the usual suspects the Umbrella Group (US, Japan, Canada, Australia and Norway) and the EU.

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Source: CIDSE

Picture credit: Getty Images