COP 21 State of Play – Days 10 and 11

Each day, Fred Heutte, lead volunteer for the Sierra Club’s Federal and International Climate Campaign, is providing updates about the day’s events at COP21, the Paris Climate Conference.  I will reprint these in this blog with his permission.

Fred Heutte

Fred Heutte

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 9 — There was a lot of anticipation for the release of a new negotiating text, but when it finally appeared Wednesday afternoon it was immediately clear that it lacked ambition even in the limited political bounds of this COP.

A lengthy evening review session of the Paris Committee showed general support for the French presidency’s process going forward, but highlighted a great many concerns across both the draft Paris Agreement and the COP decision.

While the text reduced the draft Agreement from 22 down to 14 pages and removed a lot of brackets, all the key issues remained and in some cases the opposing proposals were even farther apart.

COP 21 art

Art in the Green Zone at COP 21.

THURSDAY, DEC. 10 — This was a pivotal day for the negotiations. After being postponed several times, a new text was finally issued just after 9 p.m. After a brief Paris Committee meeting, there was a two-hour break while countries and observers separately reviewed the new revision.

The new draft arrived in the proper order. Now the draft COP 21 decision goes first, and the Paris Agreement is attached as an annex. This sets up the final COP plenary on Saturday, which will adopt both as a single package.

The new Paris Agreement text is now 14 pages, and removes most of the brackets and many of the minor options. Remaining are key issues that will be in play until the hour, early Saturday morning, when the French presidency determines things are close enough to propose a final text.

Broadly speaking, as we knew for the last couple of years during the development of the Durban Platform and the run-up to Paris, this will be a deal reflecting the political state of play among the world’s nations at this time, and not fully encompassing the reality of climate change and the what the science is saying.

Within that context, our reaction to the Thursday text is fairly positive, and it is going to be the high water mark for this process. It is much better on the five-year cycle of stocktaking and new contributions (plans for mitigation, adaptation, etc.) from all countries, quite good on the process for providing finance to developing countries and language supporting a progressive increase post-2020 from the $100 billion per year level, a strong long-term climate goal, and moving forward with a coherent technology transfer program with social and environmental integrity.

The text is weaker on other aspects and particularly messy on loss and damage, where the U.S. “safe harbor” language ruling out any liability or compensation is now on the table and threatens to undermine the entire loss and damage section.

Our assessment of the Thursday text

What we like:

  • 1.5 degrees referenced in Article 2
  • Long-term goal of greenhouse gas emissions neutrality within the second half of the century guided by science
  • Five-year cycles of INDCs starting in 2020
  • Global stocktake for mitigation and finance every five years starting 2023
  • Floor of $100 billion climate finance with cycles of review

Parts we don’t love:

  • Just transition, human rights and other elements of the “Paris principles” only in Preamble, which is non-binding language — but at least they are there
  • Transparency and verification are still in flux with options

Ministers pulled another all-nighter to respond and try to influence the text behind closed doors. In these last hours we are pushing hard to retain the strong parts of the text and against the bad options that remain.

Informal very high level negotiations will continue throughout the day on Friday and a final text may now appear on Saturday morning, with a Paris Committee and plenary meeting probably around noon, but clearly the timeline is a moment by moment matter at this stage.

State of Play Dateline

[x] Sunday 29 ADP pre-plenary
[x] Monday 30 COP opening plenary – Leader Event
[x] Tuesday 1 COP/CMP joint plenary, SBI and SBSTA opening plenaries,
start of ADP contact group and spinoffs
[x] Wednesday 2 – Spin-Off Groups, ADP stocktaking
[x] Thursday 3 – Spin-Off Groups, ADP stocktaking
[x] Friday 4 – revised ADP text 8 a.m.
[x] Saturday 5 closing ADP plenary, COP plenary
[x] Monday 7 High Level Segment, Paris Committee
[x] Tuesday 8 High Level Segment, Paris Committee
[x] Wednesday 9, Paris Committee
[x] Thursday 10, Paris Committee
[ ] Friday 11, Paris Committee
[ ] Saturday 12 (extra time), closing COP plenary

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