Updates on COP21 negotations

Updates during the Paris climate change negotiations from the charity Legal Response Initiative (I’m a trustee)

The Legal Response Initiative (LRI) supports delegates from poor and particularly vulnerable developing countries as well as civil society observer organisations free of charge in the international climate negotiations. LRI works through a global network of lawyers from law firms, barrister chambers and universities who provide hands-on assistance during meetings, publish briefing papers and build the capacity of lawyers and negotiators from developing countries.

Friday 11th December

Delegates worked until the early hours of the morning of Thursday 10 December, negotiating through an “indaba” format, and informal consultations to try to make progress on text.  Views differed, though, among delegates as to the progress achieved following this work.

Some points to note in the current draft text include: the strength of developed country party key commitments (for instance on climate finance and technology transfer),  there is no REDD+ mechanism, no reference to human rights in the agreement although it remains in the decision text, the framing of differentiation and potential shift from historical responsibility language and the soft drafting around limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.

The French presidency seems to have produced a text with many difficult issues at least partially resolved. Whilst some key demands have found their way into the new text, some big hurdles remain.The French foreign minister says Paris talks are ‘extremely close’ to agreement but negotiations will overrun into Saturday

Thursday 10th December

A new ‘clean’ version of a UN climate agreement has met with mixed reviews at talks in Paris. Delegates warn of flaws in ambitious proposals for deal: Despite agreeing on need for bold plans to protect vulnerable countries from rising seas, gaps remain in latest draft text, with next 48 hours crucial Climate talks in Paris may enter a new phase on Thursday, after all-night talks ended without further progress.

In other recent developments, the United States has joined with the EU and a range of other countries at COP21 in a “high ambition coalition“, which now comprises well over 100 countries from the rich and developing world, in an effort to secure a final agreement. Although the grouping will not be a formal negotiating block, it has set out a common position on what the Paris agreement must achieve.

Wednesday 9th Dec

It seems that most parties would agree to an aspirational 1.5 degree global temperature limit reflected in the purpose of the Paris agreement. On mitigation, parties are converging on the idea that there should be a global mitigation goal with quantifiable and qualitative elements. Parties further support a global stocktake of parties’ aggregate progress towards the goal of the Paris agreement (that does not impinge on national decision making). They are also moving towards the notion of a 5 year review cycle. However, there was no progress on liability and compensation in connection with loss and damage .

John Kerry says a tough fight ahead to reach deal on climate change.
While Ecuador Minister is ‘quietly’ confident
New data suggests period of soaring emissions may be ending
Climate change news on what the remaining days of talks will bring

Tuesday 8th Dec

Significant progress needs to be achieved over the next two days if President Fabius’ timeline to have an agreement ready by Wednesday for legal review is to be met.

While some developed countries are backing the 1.5C warming target, India insists that the negotiations should factor in “the carbon space” required for development, and scientists warned that a 1.5C temperature goal would require a fossil fuel phase-out by 2030. On loss and damage, financial support is a sensitive issue. Moreover, developed countries have put forward informal proposals for agreeing on the inclusion of a loss and damage principle conditioned on the explicit exclusion of compensation and liability. Saudi Arabia’s suggestion of inserting a reference to “the rights of people under occupation” in the clauses relating to human rights raises controversy for alluding to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Monday 7th Dec

Ministers of 195 countries participate in the Paris climate talks for the last five days of negotiations, alongside other high profile key players. They will work on the consolidated text, which still reflects disagreement over familiar sticking points. These include, for example, the definition of the long term goal: while there is a broad political agreement on a 2C target, climate vulnerable countries, Germany and France backs a 1.5C target. Also, differentiation remains a sensitive issue: on the one hand, rich countries argue that “the world has changed”; on the other, developing countries resist to the idea of changes to the binary divisionunder the UNFCCC. India says that, although it is committed to a 2C target, it will use coal to develop as developed countries did in the past. Carbon Pricing is gaining prominence again either as cap and trade  or as  tax.

Friday 4th Dec

Information security concerns trouble the Paris meeting on Thursday and Friday, as delegates’ details are leaked by hackers and envoys choose to meet in open spaces for fear that meeting rooms may be bugged. The EU Commissioner for climate action and energy believes that not enough is being done at the Paris talks, as the key issues of climate finance and loss and damage remain elusive in Friday’s two new draft agreements.  Nevertheless, it appears increasingly likely that loss and damage will be part of the final deal  but without reference to compensation and liability. India, which welcomed Thursday’s draft agreement, has joined Saudi Arabia in rejecting a revised 1.5c target for global warming. Meanwhile, a delegation of EU MEPs is in Paris to push for a binding 2c target.

Thursday 3rd Dec

Old divisions start to appear in the Paris negotiations, although a new 50-page draft text was tabled this morning for further discussion. China makes further pledges to cut emissions from the power sector by 60% by 2020, and India expresses a willingness to reduce reliance on coal, provided sufficient financial support for renewable energy projects is made available. However, ongoing tensions over the financial obligations of developed countries remain. John Turnbull suggests that Australia would be willing to ratify a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol. Climate change scientist James Hansen says the UN is on the “wrong track” by trying to cut emissions and should instead focus on a carbon pricing. This glossary explains terms guiding the long-term emissions reduction goal.