Climate change meet close to a deal but a weak agreement

New draft includes key issues raised by India like sustainable lifestyle

GN Bureau | December 11, 2015



French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who is chairing the climate summit, said: "I think we will make it." And they may still make it by tonight or tomorrow as negotiators at the Paris climate summit have worked through the night on a draft agreement to curb global warming. The deal document is shorter in length and also short on many issues.

There is a widespread expectation that the deal would be signed on Friday - although reports suggest it could be postponed until Saturday.

Participants at COP21 - as the UN conference is called - have been working on a draft text, prepared by the French presidency, since Wednesday.

Wednesday's draft document, running to just 29 pages in total, was considerably smaller than previous versions. The latest version, delivered after consultations throughout Thursday, was 27 pages.

The new draft still reflects major disagreements between countries on many issues like finance and technology transfer. The proposed deal is also weak on how countries, especially developed countries, are going to enhance their ambition to cut emissions before and after 2020.

Experts said this would lead to a weak climate deal due to factors such as the absence of a carbon budget from the main text, a weak climate finance section, deletion of a clause related to loss and damage, and lack of clarity on technology transfer.

The latest version says that temperature rises must be kept "well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C".

The number of square brackets, indicating significant disagreement, had been reduced to around 50, a major improvement on Saturday when they ran to more than 900.

The new draft includes key issues raised by India like sustainable lifestyle and the principles based on equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR).

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar had criticized the developed world for not addressing the issue of differentiation and sustainable lifestyle in the 29-page draft. For India, the 27-page draft marks a progress, even though many issues have not been addressed.

Negotiators and ministers from over 190 countries gathered in Paris on November 30 to open the Conference of Parties (CoP) under the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) for a new climate deal.

The big issues they were expected to resolve were: the limit to which the earth will be allowed to warm up over pre-industrial revolution levels; a deadline or road-map for moving away from fossil fuels (or stop greenhouse gas emissions); climate finance; stock-taking (announcements of reductions in emission levels) and ratcheting (new emission reduction targets) and the frequency with which these will be done; the creation of an entity to track the emission reduction goals of countries (this was among the first items to be left out of the drafts); the creation of a loss and damage mechanism and reparations by the developed world (again, this was among the first items to be watered down in the drafts).

Any deal signed here in Paris would come into being in 2020.

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