State of play of the negotiations

As I write, ministers are gathering in the plenary Room Seine, to make speeches to set the stage for the final week of negotiations, in what the COP President has just called “a week of hope”.

So where are we now after a week of intensive negotiations?

Written by Katherine Watts, International Climate Policy Advisor at Carbon Market Watch.

Meetings last week, unusually at such an early stage of negotiations, were behind closed doors and so were difficult for observers to follow. Intel from inside the rooms relied on having a friendly negotiator giving some top lines of what was happening and what games were being played. This has been the most closed COP to date in terms of NGOs being able to be in the room. And from what we were hearing, our absence did little to help Parties make the difficult compromises that they don’t like to be seen to be doing. Much remains unresolved.

However, on Saturday, there was a shift. Not so much in substance, as in process. The working group that’s been negotiating for the past three years to fulfil the three year old Durban mandate concluded. The French Presidency now is in charge.

Parties agreed a new text, which will now be sent to ministers to resolve. The text contains both language for a legally binding deal and decisions that will help to implement it. There are currently 970 brackets in the text, so there is a lot for negotiators to work out in the next few days.

Issues at stake include the 1.5C temperature limit, whether the INDCs will be reviewed and enhanced in 2018, the scope of loss and damage, cycles for post 2020 finance. Provisions for carbon markets keep open both offsetting and linking, and while there are some good principles (sustainable development and environmental integrity) in the text, other important ones – real, verifiable, permanent and supplemental – have slipped into the decisions, if they are still present.

The change in week two is that there are now ministers here, and they will be the ones to help broker the complex and highly political deals so that Paris can come to an agreement. The French Presidency aims to have new text out on Wednesday evening, and aims to finish promptly on Friday. We shall see. The longest UN climate conference so far was in Durban, which ended on Sunday morning at around 5am. Already weary negotiators have an incentive to make the French ambition come to pass.


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State of play of the negotiations

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