Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wrap-up of the Final Round of Climate Talks before COP21

The final round of interim climate talks have wrapped up and it would appear that unlike the preceding talks countries are playing hardball in preparation for the final round. Five days of talks between more than a 190 countries concluded in Bonn concluded on October 24th. They produced a new 55 page draft, 33 pages longer than the draft that was released on October 5. What may appear to be intractable discord may be largely an effort to secure a strong negotiating position going into the final stretch in Paris.

As explained by Dan Reifsnyder, Co-Chair, ADP, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and previously a member of the US Department of State:

"If I am in a negotiations I am not going to put all my cards on the table when the big talks are in December."

Contrary to the constructive Bonn climate talks that wrapped in September and the trustbuilding that occured at the session in June, some of the old divisions have reappeared in the most recent talks. Trust is being eroded as the old divide between wealthy and developing nations is reemerging as a salient sticking point.

It was previously agreed that wealthy countries will have to contribute at least $100 billion a year for climate finance by 2020. This money would go towards helping developing countries manage climate change. However, there may be some need to revise the list of wealthy countries as this determination was made around 20 years ago and a lot has changed since then.

The 134 nations in the G77 + China want to see the US and Europe contribute the $100 billion, while the later wants to expand the definition of wealthy nations and include contributions from the private sector.

While there a number of issues that remain to be resolved, bridging these divides is not the kind of thing we can expect from negotiators. The precise formula for sharing the burdens of managing climate change require the direct participation of senior decision makers. The delegates present in Bonn do not have the authority, hashing out these details will require the higher level delegations that will descend on Paris for COP21.

One of the interesting and contentious elements of the new draft includes mechanisms to deal with climate refugees comes from the G77 + China.

There was progress on some other fronts including the all important issue of carbon reductions and how these will be reported. As explained by Jennifer Morgan, head of the World Resources Institute climate programme.

"The current state of the draft agreement reflects how close countries are to reaching consensus on [these] key topics."

According to lead Greenpeace climate policy adviser Martin Kaiser, the new draft contains “everything we need to get a good deal.”

One of the eagerly awaited key elements ahead of COP21 are nation's INDCs. On Friday October 30, the UN will announce the results of a review into the 150+ national climate plans delivered so far.

COP21 commences in Paris on November 29th where a global climate deal is expected to be finalized some time in December.

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