Climate negotiations gain momentum ahead of COP 21

A target for net zero emissions by 2050 would unlock the innovation and creativity needed in the private sector to transition to a low-carbon economy. [NOAA/Flickr]

After five days of negotiations in Bonn, the United Nations now has a mandate to draft a text for the Paris climate agreement, but deep divides persist. Journal de l’Environnement reports

Delegates from 195 countries spent a week examining the text concocted by the UN at the beginning of this summer. Their objective: to turn this 88 page ‘tool’ into a text that governments and negotiators can agree on ahead of the COP 21 climate summit in Paris this December.

Algeria published its national contribution (INDC) in the final hours of the Bonn conference. Algiers promised to cut its emissions by between 7% and 22%, compared to the current trend.

To achieve this, Africa’s biggest country plans to increase renewable energy production by 27% by 2030, draw off the waste products from biogas, convert one million cars to LPG, improve the insulation in its buildings and re-plant 1.2 million hectares of forest.

Bonn conference

On the one hand, UN plenary sessions tend to be heavy and rarely bear much fruit. On the other, small thematic meetings do tend to bring results. The verdict on the latest round of negotiations is thus a semi-success (or a semi-failure), the experts having been unable to produce the desired text, but having managed to agree on a procedure for pushing the negotiations forward.

Just as it did after the Geneva conference in February, the UN has once again charged Daniel Reifsnyder and Ahmed Djoghlaf, co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), with axing parts of the text.

The time-frame is limited: Christina Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said “the co-chairs must produce a clear, consistant, concise and comprehensible text by October.” The next and final round of UN negotiations ahead of the COP 21 starts on 19 October.

Deep divisions

The two diplomats appear to have organised the text to make it easier to amputate sections; one of the annexes alone looks a lot like a 20 page draft agreement.

But “the two co-chairs also have to take into account the results of the discussions that took place within the thematic working groups,” said Pierre Cannet, head of climate and energy at WWF France.

This is something of a balancing act, as one of the major conclusions to emerge from these group meetings was that deep and clear divisions exist between the parties.

“We have all the pieces of the puzzle. Now we have to put the picture together,” said Laurence Tubiana, the French ambassador in charge of the climate negotiations. This is certainly easier said than done.

One negotiator summed up the confusion: “Honestly, nobody yet has a very clear vision of what happened in the 12 groups, which were sometimes split into two or three sub-groups.”

Focus on Lima

But the pieces are slowly falling into place. From now on, the negotiations will be coordinated by a control group presided over by Daniel Reifsnyder and Ahmed Djoghlaf.

A series of meetings over the upcoming weeks will aim to iron out the remaining problems. France hosted several delegations on 6 and 7 September, to discuss the issues behind the persistent divisions: adaptation, financing, technology transfers, paying for loss and damage.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will host a summit in Lima on 9 October. It is here that the richest countries will unveil their plans for financing climate action in the poorest countries. They have promised $100 billion per year from 2020.

This article also appeared on EURACTIV France


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