After a glimmer of hope on Thursday night came the despair of Friday morning, a cycle that has become so characteristic of the annual climate change talks. Just like the previous years, the Paris conference has gone into extra time, extended till Saturday, as the second successive night-long effort by the negotiators proved inadequate to reach compromises required to forge an agreement.
Just like Thursday, negotiators remained closeted in rooms throughout Friday, making another effort to bridge the differences. They are expected to come up with another draft agreement text on Saturday morning — hopefully, one that can translate into the final agreement.
A similar hope had been aligned with the draft text that emerged late on Thursday night, with India, some other developing countries, and many NGOs expressing satisfaction at the progress made. Not everything had been resolved, but a number of concerns raised by India and developing countries seemed to have been taken on board. It appeared that with another night’s effort, followed by a few hours on Friday morning, compromises could be found. But that was not to be.
On Friday, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had another meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, the third in three days. Javadekar also met French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is presiding over the conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. In the first half of the day, the Indian delegation had meetings with China and Marshall Islands.
“The success of Paris will now depend on the spirit of accommodation and flexibility shown by the developed nations. One-sided effort from the developing countries will not yield success,” Javadekar told mediapersons.
In the closed room negotiations that resumed at 11.30 pm on Thursday, countries raised objections to the draft text and were unable to come up with a compromise language that could be agreeable to everyone. The maximum disagreements were over the issues of “differentiation” and finance, which they have been trying to sort out for several years .
India took up the two provisions related to finance it had identified as those it wanted removed. One of these said developed countries should “take the lead” in mobilising climate finance “as part of a shared effort” by all countries. India was of the view that this line would make it incumbent on every country to join in the effort to mobilise climate finance. India and other developing countries have always maintained that it is only the developed world that is mandated to provide climate finance, and any contribution from other countries must be kept voluntary and out of any agreement.
The second provision tried to link development aid in future to climate considerations. This was a provision opposed by most developing countries.
At the late night meeting, India sought the deletion of the first provision, and argued that the second provision was too “prescriptive”. India is also learnt to have objected to the proposal of a five-year cycle for review of the climate action plans that every country has submitted.
The European Union, United States, Australia, New Zealand also opposed the finance provision but on completely different grounds — that they were too heavily loaded against them. These countries wanted the US$ 100 billion figure to be removed from the draft agreement text, because it could become legally-binding. They also insisted that references, which implied that mobilisation of financial resources was the sole responsibility of developed countries, should also be removed.
Meanwhile, on India’s initiative, a reference to “sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption” entered the draft text for the first time, in the preamble. PM Narendra Modi has been trying to impress upon all world leaders that bringing about lifestyle changes and reducing wasteful consumption was necessary to deal with climate change. France, Germany and some other countries have welcomed the idea, though it is still to be concretised.