Paris climate talks: Do we agree or agree to disagree?

COP21 conference: A number of countries, including India, rose up at a Wednesday evening meeting to point out the problem areas in the draft text

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Paris | Updated: December 10, 2015 11:04 am
COP21, paris climate conference, paris climate talks, COP 21 conference, COP21 climate conference, france, climate change, india climate change, france climate change, paris climate change, United states, climate change in china NGO representatives gather next to on the mini red Eiffel Tower after a sit-in protest closed to the plenary session to denounce the first draft COP21 Climate Conference agreement, and put pressure to reach an international agreement to limit global warming, during the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Climate negotiators had their first sleep-over at the Paris conference venue on Wednesday, poring over a draft agreement text that they agreed was better than all previous versions, but one that still needed lots of improvement.

A number of countries, including India, rose up at a Wednesday evening meeting to point out the problem areas in the draft text that had come out earlier in the afternoon.

Watch Climate Change Talks In Paris: How Close Are Countries to A Global Agreement On Climate Change

India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the principle of ‘differentiation’ and acknowledgement of ‘historic responsibilities’ of developed countries in causing global warming had not been satisfactorily enunciated in the draft text. He was also unhappy with the provisions relating to mobilising of financial resources by the developed countries to help out developing nations in dealing with the impacts of climate change.

“On finance, it is deeply disappointing that on the one hand developed countries are not fulfilling their obligations and on the other hand, they are trying to shift their responsibilities to developing countries themselves. There is no indication of scaling up of finance nor a clear roadmap,” Javadekar said.

The minister said that while it was essential to raise the ambition of climate actions to be taken by the countries, it was also necessary to operationalise the principle of differentiation, which asks the developed countries to take the primary responsibility in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and also in helping the other countries fight climate change.

“Both (ambition and differentiation) are equally important. We cannot have one without the other. We are not suggesting that we remain stuck to the past. Surely, we must look forward and move steadily. But a durable agreement cannot be crafted by diluting historical responsibilities or by putting the polluters and the victims at the same level,” he said.

Several other countries and country-groupings also pointed out the provisions that they disagreed with and the improvement they would like to see in the last two days of negotiations left in the two-week conference.

G-77 plus China, the largest negotiating group with more than 130 members including India, said many of the proposals it had submitted did not appear in the text. It was extremely concerned with the “steady delinking” of the text from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992, sort of a Constitution for these negotiations. This concern was expressed by Javadekar as well.

Developing countries want to see very explicit language stating that the agreement would operate under the Framework Convention. This is because the Framework Convention spells out the principles of ‘historical responsibility’ and ‘differentiation’ in very clear terms. Developing countries have often complained that the developed world has been trying to break away from the Framework Convention because it wants to run away from its responsibilities.

Speaking on behalf of the G-77 plus China group, South African minister Edna Molewa said there were “numerous inconsistencies” between the language in the Convention and the draft text.

Some developed countries like Switzerland and Australia also agreed that more balanced needed to be introduced into the draft.

After the countries had their say, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who is presiding over the conferences, said he was opening two consultation rooms, one chaired by himself and another by Manuel Pulgar Vidal, the minister of Peru who had presided over the last climate conference in Lima.

The consultation room chaired by Fabius was to discuss issues related to ambition of climate actions, differentiation and the issue of finance and technology transfer. The other consultation room was to take up issues of loss and damage, cooperative mechanisms, preamble of the agreement, and forests.

Fabius told the countries not to restate their positions on these issues at these two informal meetings but suggest “compromise wordings” to move ahead.

The meetings went on through most of the night, and would continue through Thursday as well. A new version of the draft text is expected to emerge in the evening on Thursday, which Fabius said should be the “penultimate” text, meaning it should only lead to the final agreement.

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