Paris Climate talks: now, let the real negotiations begin

All the big contentious issues, including those related to money, have remained unresolved after the first week of talks.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Paris | Published:December 7, 2015 1:43 pm
Activists hold banners at the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 in Le Bourget, north of Paris. A dozen activists unfurled banners and performed a skit outside the exhibition halls hosting high-stakes climate talks through Dec. 11. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) Activists hold banners at the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 in Le Bourget, north of Paris. (Source: AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The climate talks in Paris have entered the final lap, and the name-calling, accusations, and blame-game that characterised the first week of negotiations is likely to change into a game of hard bargaining, and of give and take, as countries try to stitch together an agreement over the next five days.

“It is going to be a week of compromises,” said Miguel Arias Canete, European Union’s climate commissioner.

All the big contentious issues, including those related to money, have remained unresolved after the first week of talks. The ministers are in town now and they are expected to utilise their political capital to take decisions on these issues.

Realising that the real progress is likely to come in informal discussions, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius who presides over this conference, has constituted an open-ended group to facilitate informal consultations. The group, to be chaired by Fabius himself, will meet every day.

Last week, most of the talks took place in small informal groups, behind closed doors. With formal negotiations from Monday morning, these will be open for everyone to see and hear.

Fabius has also formed smaller ministerial groups, each working on contentious issue whose resolution is absolutely vital for the agreement.Separate groups will work on finance and technology transfer, on differentiation, on adaptation, and on raising the ambition of climate action by developed countries in the pre 2020 period.

Fabius said the objective of all these groups would be to facilitate compromise between conflicting positions of the countries.

France, which is hosting the conference, is keen to finish the conference on time – that is by the end of Friday. All previous climate conferences in the recent past, have spilled over into extra time, some time extending to Sunday morning, as happened in Durban in 2012 and in Lima last year.

However, the hosts maintain that if the issues are not resolved in the next four days, there is no guarantee of them being resolved in a few extra hours. Fabius has stressed on the need to wind up all negotiations by Thursday evening, so that there is enough time for the text to be legally vetted and prepared in time for an adoption on Friday.

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