At the end of the first week of the United Nations climate summit in Paris, a less ambitious draft text than the failed attempt in Copenhagen six years ago is increasing the odds that countries will reach agreement on a global response to climate change.
At this year’s summit, delegates are working together more effectively than they have in the past. But it appears that “the price of this relative harmony is the conference’s lack of ambition to set steep, binding emissions limits and create the legal tools to enforce them,” Reuters notes. “We’re at the half-way point of the summit but, in the push to get a decent deal, we are not yet half-way there,” said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace.
The draft text was down from more than 50 pages to 38 or 48, depending on the version, compared to 300 pages at the same stage in Copenhagen conference, the news service reported Friday. By Sunday, negotiators were dealing with a 21-page draft. “But the text still has hundreds of brackets, marking points of disagreement on everything from finance for developing nations beyond 2020, to where to set the long-term goal for cutting or phasing out the use of fossil fuels,” Doyle and Lewis write.
“It’s hugely frustrating,” said EU chief negotiator Elina Bardram. But COP veterans say the scene is far more optimistic than it was at this point in the conference six years ago, with China determined to be a part of the Paris agreement and 150 heads of state showing up at the beginning of the conference to convey their support.
“I’m optimistic,” said Robert Stavins of Harvard University’s Environmental Economics Program. “It’s drastically different from Copenhagen.”
Among some civil society representatives onsite, the UN tradition of using square-bracketed text to indicate [items still under discussion] [points of genuine debate or disagreement] [bargaining chips] [points of political positioning that will be hotly defended until the last possible moment] [items that have apparently been on the table for dozens of years with no hope of resolution] [items that prompted youth delegate Anjali Appadurai to remind delegates in Durban three years ago that they’d been negotiating all her life] have almost become a running joke, showing up in informal emails on items far less weighty than the world-shaping decisions facing negotiators. (Now, imagine a sentence just like that, related to an issue like sea level rise, climate finance, the need to keep average warming below 1.5ºC, or the pace at which the global economy will decarbonize. Welcome to Le Bourget. – MB)