Common ground emerging as Paris climate deal draws near

CRIB NOTES JULY 20-24: France hosts high-level ministerial, Marshalls release INDC, UN posed for new text

The road to a UN climate change deal leads to Paris in 2015 (Pic: Henry Marlon/Flickr)

The road to a UN climate change deal leads to Paris in 2015 (Pic: Henry Marlon/Flickr)

By Ed King

PARIS MINISTERIAL: 48 countries, 34 ministers, one huge looming summit. The French government is hoping an environment chiefs gathering in Paris on Monday and Tuesday can help speed progress towards a global climate pact.

Huge questions remain over funding for new climate plans, how legal the pact will be and when it will come into effect. Still, a five-page French government document doing the rounds suggests officials are quietly confident a deal is there to be made.

“There is a common understanding that the Paris agreement should be flexible, because it will need to adapt to changing circumstances,” it says. A government spokesperson told RTCC this week’s event will focus on “ambition and differentiation”.

NEW TEXT: The meeting will also involve the UN’s climate chief and the two men co-chairing the talks – they are tasked with delivering a new concise negotiating text by July 24. The text currently in play is widely seen as far too big to help move discussions forward.

France’s chief climate diplomat Laurence Tubiana told the FT she hopes this meeting will offer political guidance for envoys as they continue work on the Paris deal. “This is a long and deep transformational process that will extend over the next 40 to 50 years and beyond. We need a clear framework of rules to do that,” she said.

MAJOR ECONOMIES: A pre-Paris climate gathering of the world’s top 17 economies in Luxembourg ended on Sunday. Together its members (US, China, India, EU…) represent 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. US climate envoy Todd Stern described it as “very good and constructive” stressing the need to develop a “common approach and convergence.” Press release here (French).

INDIA WARNING: And yet, a sign how high some of the hurdles are came from India’s environment minister in an intervention at the MEF meet. Prakash Javadekar repeated the country’s longstanding position that the 1992 split between developed and developing countries should remain in any deal this year.

“We should not forget that what will lapse is the Kyoto Protocol and not the UNFCCC. We should not try to rewrite the Convention. Annexes are part of the Convention’s basic structure stemming from historical responsibility of countries,” he said.

UN PLEDGE WATCH: The Marshall Islands have become the first small island state to outline their goals for a climate deal. Unusually for a developing country it put forward an economy-wide target of 32% GHG cuts below 2010 levels by 2025, and an “indicative target” of 45% by 2030.

“The preference for a 2025 target is consistent with calls by the US, Brazil and the world’s most vulnerable countries for shorter five-year commitments to avoid locking in insufficient ambition all the way to 2030, some 15 years away,” reads a statement from the country.

EU GATHERS: More high-level chin wags this week, with an informal ministerial in Luxembourg. Member states are expected to discuss the state of climate finance flows and be briefed on the state of the UN talks.

JAPAN SLAMMED: Tokyo’s target was announced last Friday – but only now have the details gone up on the UN website. The 26% cuts on 2013 levels by 2030 proposed has been criticised by Oxfam Japan’s Maiko Morishita as “deeply” disappointing.

“With plans to build 52 new coal-fired power plants, Japan is heading in the wrong direction and put at odds with the G7 recent commitment to phase out fossil fuels by the end of the century,” she said.

UK’S GREEN BONFIRE: What’s cooking in Westminster? While secretary of state Amber Rudd talks climate ambition in Paris, her government appears to be dismantling the country’s climate policies. One solar panel at a time.

“There is a hardening view in the Cabinet that we’ve got to deal with green subsidies” a source told the Daily Mail. The announcement of a “big reset” of policy will come within weeks, it said.

Former UK climate chief Ed Davey – liberated from the shackles of power – says the country is on the road to ruin.

VATICAN MEETING: 50 mayors and governors will meet in Rome on July 21 & 22, reports Mashable; the latest sign Pope Francis’ new interest in climate change isn’t dimming. Organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, guests include he mayors of New York, Rio and California governor Jerry Brown.

The two sessions are called “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of The Cities,” and “Prosperity, People and Planet: Achieving Sustainable Development in Our Cities.”

GREEN FUND DEADLINE: Good news for the under-fire (see why here) UN-backed Green Climate Find. It’s chief says they’ll announce the first project(s) for investment in November, immediately before the COP21 talks in Paris.

“This will be a highly symbolic moment, sending a strong signal from Africa to Paris that developing countries are building sustainable pathways with the Fund’s support,” said Héla Cheikhrouhou, GCF executive director.

OIL MAJORS: Will announce how they can contribute to a UN climate deal in October. After offering to help six of the world’s top producers – Shell, BP, BG Group, Total, Statoil and ENI – will now come back and explain just what policies they think could help cut global emissions. More here.

Key dates this week…

20-21: Paris climate ministerial
21-22: Vatican climate regions summit
22-23: EU environment ministers meet
24: UK SoS to discuss Paris in London
24: New UN climate text out

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