We’re moving into the final lap in the drive towards a global agreement in Paris. With just 10 days of negotiations left before we arrive in Paris, governments have their work cut out for them if they are to reach key political decisions as well as ensure the necessary level of precision within the text. The ADP co-chairs’ tool segregates the various issues and elements within the Geneva Negotiating Text (GNT) into three sections: Section I contains text pertaining to the core agreement; Section II has elements to be addressed via COP decisions; and Section III contains text where there is disagreement as to whether it belongs in the legal agreement, or an accompanying COP decision.
ECO believes that Section III contains numerous key elements that are necessary for an ambitious Paris agreement, and need to be moved to either Section I or II. Some elements in Section II need to be carefully considered for placement in the core legal agreement, as they will play a key role in the ambition and fairness of the Paris agreement.
Negotiators must build on progress achieved in the previous Bonn session, working to overcome differences on key issues and move towards convergence, rather than continuing to negotiate a text where every country continues to insist on preservation of its own proposals. Bridging differences within the text means not just tweaking existing language, but also requires introducing new language which is developed in a collaborative way within the various contact groups, with co-facilitators playing a key role in identifying emerging convergences.
This session must build on the consensus already achieved on several key issues in the informal ministerial discussions hosted by the Peruvian and incoming French presidencies, such as the need for a 5-year review cycle, a common post-2020 transparency regime, and the durability of the agreement. Delegates need to use the time in Bonn to help refine and elaborate on the consensus achieved on these issues, while identifying points of contention on other issues that can be taken up in the upcoming ministerial discussions. The next such discussion, on September 6 and 7, is slotted to focus on several critical issues, including means of implementation, adaptation, and loss and damage.
Ministers and in some cases, heads of state, must ultimately address the crunch political issues in the Paris agreement. But negotiators must do their part, by refining and reducing the number of options that these political leaders grapple with. As a Brazilian delegate correctly noted at the June session, if negotiators send 10 or 11 options on key issues to ministers, they won’t have done their jobs.
While the text is narrowed down and options further clarified, ECO urges governments not to trade off ambition, fairness, and effectiveness for consensus. The world can’t afford to leave Paris with a lowest common denominator agreement that fails to meaningfully tackle the problem of climate change.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently said “I hope negotiators and ministers (will) look beyond their national interests” and accelerate progress towards an effective agreement in Paris. ECO couldn’t agree more.