Finance and burden sharing between rich, developing and emerging economies emerge as sticking points after final pre-COP21 ministerial meet
By Ed King
The challenge facing officials working on a global deal to cut carbon emissions has been emphasised in a French government briefing released 10 days before the 2015 Paris climate summit opens.
A summary of an 8-10 November Paris meeting involving 60 ministers lists over 20 issues which require clarity before a UN pact to limit warming to below the 2C danger zone can be struck.
Greater levels of climate finance from developed countries to poorer and emerging economies is a major hurdle repeatedly referred to in the document.
“$100 billion would be considered as a floor for post-2020 finance in the context of an ambitious overall agreement in terms of mitigation and transparency,” it says.
Contributions from developing countries wishing to fund low carbon projects “should be included” but “there is no understanding how best to capture this in the text,” says the summary.
More clarity is also needed on how much funds are being directed towards climate-themed projects, with some countries appearing to reject an OECD study that said $62 billion was delivered in 2014.
“The results of OECD-CPI report were referenced but there were questions about methodology, climate finance definitions, scope,” says the document.
Disagreements over how the pathway to meeting the 2020 goal of $100 billion a year also surfaced: “some proposed intermediary targets ($70 billion in 2016, $85 billion in 2018) but others did not consider targets appropriate.”
The Paris pre-COP involved all major economies, including the US, India, China and EU-28, as well as representatives from small island states, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
A senior EU negotiator who attended the meeting described the political will and commitment as “unprecedented” but added “there will still be risks”.
On the vexed question of how responsibility for sharing carbon cuts will be shared between rich, poor and emerging economies, known as differentiation, there is still no consensus, the document suggests.
“It is essential to find a proper way of reflecting equity and differentiation in the Paris agreement.
The two are linked: to be equitable, we need to be differentiated,” reads one line.
While a new principle of differentiated responsibilities “in light of different national circumstances” was agreed at the 2014 Lima meeting, this needs to be applied across the whole text.
“If there is progress on differentiation suddenly whole swathes of the text could be streamlined,” said the EU official.
France wants a “revised, shorter text before midday on Saturday 5 December” and negotiations to be complete “well in advance of the end of the second week”
Still, the French government suggest there are areas of convergence among countries, notably on the need for a long term emissions goal and the need for regular reviews.
“There is general agreement that the global stocktake should be comprehensive and cover all elements: mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation,” it says.
“It should be an aggregate exercise, facilitative and non-punitive; it should be designed to assess “where we stand collectively” in relation to the long term goals.”
The text could also recognise the need to limit warming to 1.5C “for the climate safety of the most vulnerable countries” it adds.
In a Thursday press call WWF head of climate, Samantha Smith, said it was “very likely there will be an agreement” but it would depend on critical issues like climate finance.
UK secretary of state for climate and energy Amber Rudd described an agreement as “tantalisingly close” but said negotiations must “tread carefully over what is national sovereignty.”
“What is key is the nature of reviews and bindingness going forward… [it’s] hard to get certain countries to commit – and keep everyone in the tent.”