Climate negotiators in Paris were faced with a make or break moment as they studied a final draft text that, within the next few hours, can either get translated into a historic global agreement or be the reason for a major international embarrassment.
“It is the moment of truth,” French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who is presiding over the conference, told the negotiators just ahead of the emergence of the draft agreement text, the fourth that has come out during the course of this two-week climate meet. The previous three were not agreeable to all the countries.
The countries have been given two hours to examine the new draft text and convene for a final meeting at 3.45 pm local time (8.15 pm India time) to either accept or reject the text. Countries can still make a few changes in the text in that meeting, provided it is agreeable to all. If the countries still don’t agree to it, the talks will be considered a failure.
Countries have already faced such a failure once before, when they had aimed for a similar global agreement in Copenhagen in 2009 and were unable to stitch together a deal. That failure is still weighing on the minds of the negotiators.
“Nobody here would like to see a repetition of what happened in Copenhagen,” Fabius said. “…this kind of planetary configuration, for the agreement, has never been as good as it is today. Our responsibility to history is immense,” he said.
French president Francois Hollande joined the negotiators at the conference venue in Le Bourget, just outside of Paris and exhorted them to accept the compromises for the sake of a global agreement. “You have this opportunity to change the world. You have to take this opportunity…grasp it,” he said.
The climate agreement that countries are trying to finalise is aimed at reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, sufficiently fast to keep the global average temperatures from rising beyond 2 degree from pre-industrial times. Such an effort would have huge impacts on the economy of every country, and possibly also on lifestyles of people everywhere.
More than 150 heads of states and governments had assembled in Paris on the opening day of the conference on November 30 to give their political backing to the negotiating process. But the schism between the positions of the developed and developing countries have remained as wide as ever, and a common ground on issues related to ‘differentiation’ and finance has remained elusive. The conference, which was scheduled to finish on Friday, is already in extra-time.