COP21: What do countries want from a Paris climate deal?

China, the EU, US, small island states and the least developed countries outline what they want to see in a proposed global agreement

Stern discusses plans for a global climate agreement in 2015 in the infamous 'huddle' of COP17 (Pic: IISD Reporting Services)

Stern discusses plans for a global climate agreement in 2015 in the infamous ‘huddle’ of COP17 (Pic: IISD Reporting Services)

By Ed King

With days to go before the 2015 UN climate talks kick off in France, countries and negotiating groups are starting to publish their wish-lists for a global deal.

The challenge for negotiators and UN officials will be to distill these demands into a clear and comprehensive agreement that ensures radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions over time.

We’ll add more of the country and group statements as they emerge in the coming days. Talks are now primed to start at 1700 on Sunday.

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Todd Stern, chief US climate envoy

“We are looking for an agreement that is ambitious, effective, fair, and durable; that accelerates the transition that we all need to a clean energy, low-carbon, resilient economy worldwide; and that is applicable to all parties, all countries. This is one of the really critical features of this agreement that everybody is going to be involved, everybody engaged.

“I think it’s also critically important that this is an agreement that sends a signal – and if we do it right, it’s going to send a signal – to the public, to civil society, to the private sector all over the world that the leaders of the world have taken this issue on, that we’re moving forward, and that there’s no going back, so that’s what I would say.

“In terms of the critical issues, we need strong mitigation – that’s the effort to reduce emissions. We need excellent transparency. It’s important that all countries and observers can see what everybody’s doing, whether they’re following through on the commitments and pledges that they’ve made. We need strong provisions on adaptation. There’s a great many countries who don’t emit very much but who have – face great risk from the effects of and impacts of climate change, and even countries who are advanced – I mean, we know this in the United States; just look at Hurricane Sandy and the droughts that we’re suffering and so many other things. All countries have a real challenge in adaptation and this agreement means to enhance and increase the focus on adaptation.

“We also need strong provisions on financial and other kinds of assistance to poor countries that need it, and we need to move this agreement from the old-style, backward-looking bifurcation between two distinct categories into a world which is forward-looking, where there is differentiation across the range of countries. Countries can’t be expected to do more than they’re able to, but we shouldn’t just have this antiquated way of bifurcating climate change.”

G77 and China

No official position yet bar this tweet, but the group pushed hard on new finance at the October set of Bonn talks.

Giza Gaspar-Martins (Angola), chair of the Least Developed Countries

“The LDCs expect nothing less than the strongest commitments to ambitious climate action from all Parties, contained within an internationally agreed legally binding treaty. This must be the outcome of COP21. It is absolutely critical that we adopt a legally binding agreement in Paris. We will work hard to make sure that this happens.

“The provisions and finance commitment for implementing adaptation actions need to be made clearer, with priority given to developing countries, who are far more reliant on public finance than emerging or middle income countries. The Least Developed Countries Fund currently stands empty, with 35 projects in the pipeline, waiting for approximately US$255 million worth of resources to be made available.

“Transparency and inclusiveness must be the watchwords of these negotiations if we are to succeed in Paris. This agreement is not about one individual country. It is about the whole planet. It is about trust and building confidence among all the countries, business, cities and people.”

China chief envoy Xie Zhenhua

“The key issue will be in funding and technology… technological innovation, cooperation and transfer. Looking at the progress of the negotiations right now, there are still a lot of differences, but overall, I believe there is hope.”

“From Bali to Paris, I have participated in nine years of climate negotiations and I have quite a lot of confidence in the Paris talks this year,” he said. “No country has expressed opposition to the common principles. Everyone is in favour.”

Quotes from Reuters.

India environment minister Prakash Javadekar

Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)

First, it must include ambitious commitments from all parties coupled with a robust process that drives even bolder actions year after year and in line with keeping the rise in global average temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Second, as the latest storms and catastrophic coral bleaching event so graphically illustrate, climate change is already happening and it will only get worse in the years to come. Some impacts cannot be addressed through adaptation at all. To address sea level rise, ocean acidification, and other severe impacts, an international mechanism on Loss and Damage must be a central and distinct element of the Paris package and lead to action.

Finally, we know that tackling climate change and adapting to its impacts will require a minimum of $100 billion USD per year by 2020, and scaling up from this level post-2020 in a transparent and predictable way, including public, grant-based support for adaptation.

We are staring at a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle climate change in Paris. But a final agreement is by no means assured and recent history makes it clear that success will require compromise, yes, but one that reflects the views of all parties—especially the most vulnerable.

European Union climate commissioner Arias Cañete

“The credibility of the deal will depend on these key elements: a long-term goal, regular reviews to increase ambition over time and strong transparency and accountability rules.”

The increase in the global average temperature needs to be held below 2C above the pre-industrial levels in order to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. For the EU, the new agreement must send a clear signal of governments’ resolve to reduce emissions sufficiently to keep temperature increase below the agreed limit by the end of the century.

The EU’s vision of a credible agreement includes:

– A global vision for a long term goal as a signal for stakeholders, including businesses, investors and the public, of the resolve to shift to low-carbon economies;
– A mechanism to regularly review and raise the collective ambition;
– A robust transparency and accountability system to ensure that Parties and stakeholders can trust that what is promised will be delivered.

New Zealand, Jo Tyndall

“The political mometum is very clearly evident… and I do think the sheer number of INDCs [climate plans] being tabled is an indicator of a real game changer in the UNFCCC [the UN’s climate body]. It’s really very important signal of an intention to do a deal. What sort of deal… parties have very different ideas… but the overall momentum for having an outcome is strong.

“Secondly.. during the informal process through the course of this year it has been pretty clear where the lines of convergence lie on big issues, so what I hope is that even if to date that sense of convergence hasn’t played out in formal negotiations room… now we’re in Paris at the end of road we will be able to pull those convergent areas through.

“Finance: clearly along with resolving differentiation this is a big issue… it’s actually a subset of differentiation… to a large extent we know it’s going to be critical to resolve the whole Paris outcome. It is really tricky to say how that will play out… there’s lots of good faith action on part of developed countries… donor countries this year. 

“The OECD [climate finance] report with the CPI gave a clear indication of how much money is being mobilised already… we are well on track to meeting US$100bn target [by 2020]. I really believe and hope that those good faith actions mean we go into Paris with a sense that parties are living up to what they want to do.”

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