The Paris climate change talks have gone into extra time, having been extended till Saturday, after night-long negotiations failed to resolve some of the broader disagreements over ‘differentiation’ and finance.
On Thursday night, as a new draft agreement text came out, countries seemed having moved much closer to clinching a deal. “The end looks in sight,” an Indian negotiator had said as everyone prepared for the last one push reach an agreement over the night.
But that was not to be. Discussions went on throughout the night and well into early morning on Friday, and it was decided to give the countries some more time to strike compromises with each other on the language that everyone can be satisfied with. The next version of the draft agreement text is expected only by 8 am (1230 afternoon India time) on Saturday. If that draft is agreeable to everyone, then countries will meet at 12 noon (1630 India time) to finalise the agreement.
On Thursday night, the negotiator looked just a step away from clinching the landmark climate agreement, though not everything had been resolved in the draft text. However, a number of contentious issues had indeed been resolved and that had given hope that night-long effort followed by a few hours in the morning may finally bring about compromise and convergence on the remaining issues, possibly in time for a Friday closing of the conference for the first time in several years.
Most of India’s concerns had either been addressed or were part of the remaining options in the draft text. An Indian negotiator had said he was happy to see the progress made in the text from the previous version. “From here on, it is quite possible to get an agreement that we can be happy about, something that is fair, equitable and balanced,” he said.
NGOs and observer groups had welcomed the Thursday night draft text as well and had hoped that all remaining issues will be resolved by Friday morning.
But the UN process works on the principle that nothing is agreed on till everything is agreed, and as such everyone was still keeping their fingers crossed. Immediately after the latest draft came out at 9 pm local time (0130 India time on Friday) on Thursday, the Indian delegation had zeroed in on two lines on finance provisions that they decided to fight against in the final round of negotiations.
One of them said that developed countries should “take the lead” in mobilising climate finance “as part of a shared effort” by all countries. India was of the view that this line would make it incumbent on every country to join in the effort to mobilise climate finance. India and other developing countries have always maintained that it is only the developed world that is mandated to provide climate finance, and any contribution from other countries must be kept voluntary and out of any agreement.
The second provision tried to link development aid to countries in future to climate considerations. This was a provision that is likely to be opposed by most developing countries.
Overall, India’s concerns on ‘differentiation’, finance, and review mechanism for climate action had found resonance in the draft text. What also made an entry for the first time in this draft was a reference to “sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been trying to impress upon all world leaders that bringing about lifestyle changes and reducing wasteful consumption was necessary to deal with climate change.
“Significant progress has been made, but this is not the final outcome. It is a text and it is still in play, but it is a text to defend and strengthen,” Liz Gallagher, programme leader, Climate Diplomacy E3G, said.