4 issues to resolve before gavel falls on UN climate deal

Ministers must get their act together on these key issues for a successful deal in Paris, says Mohamed Adow

By Mohamed Adow

With only three days left at the UN climate change summit in Lima pressure is building on countries to strike a deal.

Negotiators don’t have much time if they are to get everything they need done before the gavel comes down in the early hours of Saturday morning.

To speed up the process and assist ministers in their deliberations over the next few days, here is a helpful to-do list of four things that need to happen, why they need to happen and who needs to make them happen.

1. Differentiation (who does what and how much)

On the subject of differentiation, or division of labour in how to tackle climate change, we need action from rich industrialised countries and countries with greater responsibility and capability. Rich countries need to realise they can’t do away with their historic responsibilities, and emerging countries need to accept that the global deal to be signed next year in Paris needs to reflect their changing circumstances.

We need them to open space to discuss this important topic head on, element by element so that we don’t end up with a system of just self-differentiation which would undermine the rules-based system needed to have country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) in place before Paris.

2. Finance

On the thorny matter of finance, we need to see European Union, US, Japan, Australia and the other rich nations help to build a roadmap to the promised $100 billion to support poor countries. Otherwise, quite simply, the Paris deal will fail.

The $100 billion is not as scary a number as some countries are making out.  The ease with which trillions was found to bail out the banks proves that it can be quickly raised, if there is the political will.

Developed countries agreed to this sum in Copenhagen, and if they don’t deliver it now, trust in this whole process will be fatally undermined. Until developing countries can at least see a path to this promise, negotiations will be sluggish at best and could altogether stall.

3. Assessment

On the issue of equity-based assessment of contributions, China, India and the United States should hold bilateral discussions with the Africa Group, Latin American alliance AILAC and the European Union to find a way of incorporating a proper review system for INDCs. Unless they do, so the naysayers will get everyone to doubt the sincerity of their contributions.

This applies even to the recent announcements by the US, China and the EU.  Of course, China and India need to feel confident that they won’t be subject to intrusive measures, but they should see this as a chance to show the world that their commitments are adequate and fair.

4. Upfront information

The US, Japan and the EU need to accept adaptation and finance in the draft decision on the INDCs. It won’t cost them the world and it would demonstrate their political will in taking adaptation more seriously.

This goodwill would not only help the poor adapt, but also help to secure a more comprehensive rules-based system under the (favoured) mitigation part of the agreement. This would be good for everyone.

That’s quite a lot to be getting on with as the hours tick down but it is by no means insurmountable. Governments have three days to put us on a path to Paris which will see a successful agreement struck. What that deal looks like and whether it’s a success or a failure will be decided here in the last days in Lima.

Here’s the to-do list. It’s time for ministers to get cracking.

Mohamed Adow is senior climate change advisor at Christian Aid

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