Paris climate talks: A day in hand, here’s what countries have on their minds

Even the broader unresolved issues and principles are many and wideranging.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Updated: December 11, 2015 7:52 pm
paris climate conference, paris news, UN climate conference, koyoto protocol, UN climate news, paris climate summit news, world news, latest news Environmental activists create a message of hope in Paris. (Source: Reuters)

Just one more day remains in the Paris climate talks, and countries are still far away from the agreement they had set out to achieve. There are several provisions in the draft version of Thursday that individual countries and groups of countries are not happy with — but at this point, they are only looking to settle the broader, more important issues in their favour. On other matters, they are essentially trying to ensure language that can cover their concerns.

But even the broader unresolved issues and principles are many and wideranging. As of Thursday here at COP21 in Paris, this is what some of the more important and influential players are talking about.

INDIA

Differentiation: India wants the concept of ‘differentiation’ to be clearly spelt out in all elements of the agreement. Developed countries must have a greater responsibility to accept emission reduction targets, they must be the only ones to mandatorily provide financial resources, and they must be subject to stricter scrutiny of their actions through a review mechanism. The current text is not to India’s liking in these aspects.

Explicit link to UNFCCC: India also wants the agreement to explicitly state that it will operate within the mandate of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UNFCCC has several principles, including that of common but differentiated responsibilities, that India does not want the future climate regime to deviate from.

G-77 + CHINA

India is part of this group, which has more than 130 members, all developing countries. This group has similar concerns on differentiation and linkage to the UNFCCC. It has also articulated some other concerns.

Adaptation: This group of countries wants provisions on adaptation to be strengthened, particularly those that are related to the commitment of the developed countries to provide money to help the poor and vulnerable countries to adapt to climate change.

Loss and Damage: The group says there should be a separate article on the issue of loss and damage that seeks to provide special help to a country that is hit by a climate disaster. Currently, there is a proposal to deal with loss and damage as part of the adaptation package.

BASIC

This heavyweight group of Brazil, South Africa, India and China has the same concerns as the G-77 plus China on issues related to differentiation, adaptation, linkage to the Convention and loss and damage. But it is stressing on some other issues as well.

Finance: The BASIC group wants to ensure that there is an explicit commitment for the developed countries to mobilise US $ 100 billion, at the very least, every year from 2020 as climate finance. Some of the options in the current text do not explicitly mention this figure. This group also wants that there should not be any reference that makes it compulsory for the developing countries to provide or mobilise climate finance, either for the $ 100 billion kitty, or any additional money.

SIDS & LDCs

The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have similar concerns on finance as other developing countries, but their biggest demand is about the global target for capping temperature rise. For many of these countries, this is literally a question of their survival, as rising seas threaten to swallow them entirely.

1.5 degrees: SIDS and LDCs, while faced with the worst impacts of climate change, have the weakest capacities to deal with them. They want the agreement to say that the goal would be to keep the average temperature increase from pre-industrial times to within 1.5 degrees, and not 2 degrees. The current draft text has three options — below 2 degrees, well below 2 degrees and striving for 1.5 degrees, and below 1.5 degrees.

UNITED STATES

The US accepts the principle of differentiation, but wants everyone to contribute. It is willing to provide money, but has been refusing to mention $ 100 billion as the floor figure for climate finance from developed countries.

Expansion of Donor Base: Currently, a group of just 25 countries are supposed to provide climate finance. The US wants other countries to contribute as well, even on a voluntary basis. It wants some reference in the agreement to this effect. The current draft text has this reference.

Similar evaluation of climate actions: The climate action that countries have committed themselves to are supposed to be subject to scrutiny, both at the level of individual nations and as a collective. The US wants the same level of evaluation for all countries — unlike India, which wants differentiation here as well. The US argues that unless nations are subject to similar levels of monitoring, review and verification of their actions and the results they are producing, the world will not know if they are doing enough. The US wants this part of the agreement to be legally binding.

EUROPEAN UNION

It agrees with the United States on the expansion of the donor base.

Legally binding treaty: The European Union’s is still the strongest voice asking for the entire agreement to be made legally binding. But it is being outvoted.

amitabh.sinha@expressindia.com

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