After four days of negotiations, it is clear that the Paris climate conference is travelling down a very familiar path. It has so far not been unlike any previous such meetings in any way. All the important discussions have been delegated to the small groups working behind the scenes; there have been a few inevitable clashes, and absolutely no breakthrough on any contentious issue has been achieved.
It was clear, as several negotiators pointed out, that countries were keeping the most important issues for the second week, and not revealing their cards in the early stages of the negotiations.
While the public discourse has been limited to the issue of finance, no progress has been reported thus far on any other issue as well. Informal groups, contact groups, sub-groups, spin-off groups — all sorts of names have been allocated — are working to resolve differences on specific issues. For the last two days, they have been reporting back to the main negotiating room about the progress they have achieved at the end of the day.
Based on the work so far, the host country produced the first draft agreement text on Thursday morning. It was virtually the same text as the one the negotiators had ended up with in the previous negotiating session in Bonn last month– clearly there is a lack of progress in Paris. All of Thursday, negotiators were again closeted in these small groups. A new, improved, text is expected to be produced on Friday.
The plan is to resume the formal negotiations from Saturday after a trimmed down draft agreement is compiled on the basis of work of the smaller groups.