A NEW scientific report, claiming that global emissions of carbon dioxide might have fallen this year, injected a fresh dose of optimism into the Paris climate talks as negotiators began the final dash towards finding an agreement.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia, UK, and the Global Carbon Project have reported that carbon dioxide emissions could decline by 0.6 per cent this year, after growing at an average of 2.4 per cent per year over the last decade.
Published in Nature magazine, the research attributes the decline to a reduction in China’s dependence on coal and its movement towards cleaner and renewable energy.
However, the dip in emissions was more likely to be an aberration than a trend, according to Corinne Le Quere, co-author of the study and director of the Tyndal Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.
“The break has to do with China’s economic instability. It is unlikely to be a peak of emissions. A lot of emerging economies are based on coal and in just a few years, emissions are going to go up really rapidly,” Le Quere was quoted as saying by Nature.
Even before the report came, it had become clear that countries had become more willing to make the compromises required to clinch the agreement, mainly on issues related to finance, and a review mechanism to monitor who was doing what.
“We are very positive (that a satisfactory agreement will be achieved in Paris). I am getting very positive vibes,” said India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.
None of the contentious issues have been resolved as yet but the sharpness in language of the main players, so evident in the first week of negotiations, was missing even as the United States, the European Union, South Africa and others restated their positions in public.
The magazine report and the prevalent mood have also given rise to hopes that for the first time in several years, the climate change conference could actually end on time. In previous years, the conference had spilled over to Saturday, even till Sunday morning.
France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is presiding over the two-week conference, reminded the delegates on Monday morning that the conference needed to end on Friday — and that negotiations have to be wrapped by Thursday evening to allow time to streamline the agreement text.
Javadekar probably gave a hint of how this could be done with a remark he made in a different context. “We have this conference every year. If all questions are resolved in Paris, then what will we discuss in the next meetings,” he said, while answering a question on whether contentious issues on finance would be resolved over the next few days.
Negotiators, meanwhile, were preparing themselves for long nights over the next few days — even a sleepover at the conference centre. India has hired several sleeping bags for use at its small office in the conference venue to facilitate a few hours of sleep for its negotiators.
On Monday, negotiators sat down with co-facilitators to iron out major differences on separate themes. Later, the countries will meet to review the progress made so far. Sources said that possible compromise formulas were likely to emerge by Tuesday evening.
One such issue is the proposal of developed countries to ask some developing countries to chip in financially for “climate actions” around the world. Javadekar said India was already helping out its neighbours and friends in Africa and elsewhere.
“Let the developed countries first fulfill their own commitments to put forward $100 billion in 2020 and every year after that. We will then see what more needs to be done,” he said.
“We realise that the cost of climate actions is far greater than $100 billion annually. It is probably in trillions of dollars. We have offered help to our friends and neighbours bilaterally. But the developed countries have an international commitment… and that commitment must be fulfilled. One cannot try to shift that responsibility to other countries,” he said.