Paris climate ministerial sees progress on global deal

Countries will decide on their responsibility to slash emissions as opposed to older system splitting rich and poor

(Pic: France diplomatie)

(Pic: France diplomatie)

By Ed King

Climate talks hosted by the French government this week achieved significant progress on key issues ahead of a proposed global pact later this year, say participants.

Ministers from 46 countries converged on Paris for the two-day summit, aimed at speeding negotiations that were recently described as travelling at a “snail’s pace” by Ban Ki-moon.

Critically, there appears to be a better understanding of how the responsibilities of slashing greenhouse gas emissions will be balanced between rich and poor countries.

Giza Gaspar Martins, a diplomat from Angola, told RTCC governments will “self-differentiate” and evaluate their capacity to contribute to a UN deal.

“We are moving away from attempting to develop lists of countries and where they fit in terms of a category,” said Martins, who leads the world’s poorest countries in the UN’s climate negotiations.

“Because we are self-differentiating, countries will describe where each ought to be in a pecking order.”

He added there was an understanding among all major emitters that the world had moved on from the idea countries deemed developing in 1992 did not have to slash pollution.

Review cycles

France’s chief climate diplomat Laurence Tubiana hailed headway on moves to ensure all countries review their carbon cutting achievements every five years.

“This is a breakthrough,” she said in the post-summit press conference. “That was not obvious to get.”

“There are still a lot of details to be worked out, but the idea of everyone accepting to be verified within a common framework is very significant.”

All major emitters were present in Paris, alongside representatives from smaller developing country blocs, although Russia was a notable absentee.

The national climate plans already submitted indicate the world is well off avoiding warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels, so a 2015 deal needs to ensure ambition levels are radically boosted.

Marshall Islands foreign minister Tony de Brum told RTCC he was “proud” of the support for regular assessments, which his country has pushed for to ensure countries maintain ambitious policies.

EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete warned that much work was still to be done, but told AFP the “core architecture” of a deal was taking shape.

“I am very encouraged to see that the EU’s proposal for a long-term goal, a five-year review and common transparency rules are becoming the centre of the discussions,” he said.

BACKGROUND PAPER: What was this meeting for?

Eyes now turn to Bonn, where a new version of a negotiating text for governments to work off will be released by the UN on Friday.

In June, the two officials co-chairing the talks were mandated to take the ballooning 80+ page text and distill the vast number of options and ideas into a clearer set of proposals.

Both men were present in Paris to take a note of the mood of negotiating groups, which Martins described as “constructive”.

“The mandate we gave them is a very clear reflection of what the options are, in some cases identifying landing grounds,” he said.

“It’s less about the number of pages… but it will inevitably be shorter,” he said.

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