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Paris Climate Talks: Yes we CAN – Compromise, Agree, Negotiate

After a week of bickering in which practically nothing was resolved, the climate negotiators in Paris have started making swift progress in the second week, with convergence on several points Monday evening.

Written by Amitabh Sinha
Paris | December 8, 2015 2:35:52 pm
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations, climate change, world, global warming, climate news, paris, cop21, climate change talks U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (Source: AP)

After a week of bickering in which practically nothing was resolved, the climate negotiators in Paris have started making swift progress in the second week, with convergence on several points Monday evening.

Last Saturday, the president of the conference, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, had appointed several ‘facilitators’ to hold consultations on specific issues with countries outside the main negotiating room. On Monday, these facilitators met the country negotiators separately and in groups to reconcile differences on key issues that have been holding up the discussions.

Late in the evening, these facilitators presented their report in the main negotiating room, with some of them saying that they had made “concrete progress” on some issues and that some “positive trends were emerging”.

The issues that were discussed with separate facilitators on Monday included provisions related to finance, adaptation, whether the countries should aim at preventing a temperature rise of 2 degree or 1.5 degree, how to increase the ambition of emission cuts in the pre-2020 period, the correct balance of differentiation between developed and developing countries, and whether more countries needed to be called to contribute towards climate finance.

Many countries came up with specific suggestions to bridge the differences but there was a general demand from the developing countries that there must not be any backsliding from the developed world on the commitments that have already been made on issues like mobilising US$ 100 billion in climate finance by the year 2020 and every year after that, or reducing emissions in the pre-2020 period. The agreement under negotiation comes into force only after 2020.

The facilitators said they would continue their consultation on Tuesday and present another report by the evening. But many countries, including Malaysia, Cuba and Russia, suggested that text-based negotiations must also start immediately instead of consultations at just the conceptual level. These countries said if the text-based negotiations began only on Wednesday evening as planned now, there would not be enough time for the negotiators to reach an agreement in time for a Friday closing.

The hosts have been insisting on a timely end to the conference, unlike in several previous years.

Meanwhile, countries were getting ready with the compromises they could make to enable an agreement taking shape. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the countries that incremental and half-steps would not stop the climate catastrophe. “The world is expecting more from you than those half-measures and incremental approaches. It is calling for a transformative agreement,” he said, asking countries to make the compromises that are needed.

UNFCCC executive secretary Christina Figueres, the top UN climate official, made a dramatic appeal to countries to reach an agreement. “I am often asked what keeps me up at night. Here’s what keeps me up — I often see seven sets of eyes of seven generations beyond me, asking me, ‘What did you do? What did you do?’. The same question will be asked of you. May we all will be able to stand tall and clearly say, ‘We did everything that was necessary’,” she said.

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