No ‘bonne nouvelle’ from Bonn

June 16, 2015

Posted by: Frances Lawson

It was never going to be easy, but hopes that intense negotiations in Bonn (UNFCCC) would shift the climate change negotiations onto a smooth track running fast to Paris have been dashed. One of the key tasks – to reduce the unwieldy 90-page negotiating text into something far more manageable – resulted in only about 5% of the countless, duplicative and often obscure options being rationalised. Or in terms of page numbers, negotiators are now working with an 85-page rather than a 90-page document in English. This is not the result that 10 days of intensive effort was intended to deliver. The consensus among negotiators is said to be that progress may well be too slow to make agreement on a new legally binding text likely at COP21 in Paris, even with two further negotiating sessions still to come.

The intention ahead of the next negotiating session in August is to focus on advancing particular workstreams in the negotiating text, differentiating between those elements which need to form part of the Paris Agreement, such as the long-term objectives, commitments and principles, and those of a more operational nature, such as transparency, monitoring and review, which could be finalised in a future Decision of the Conference of the Parties.

Given what is at stake at COP21, not only for François Hollande and his administration, but also for the wider international community, all the stops are likely to pulled out henceforth to ensure that COP21 avoids becoming another Copenhagen. Perhaps what may now emerge in Paris is a ‘semi-outcome’ – a headline agreement containing long-term mitigation and adaptation goals and other broad commitments, but with the mechanics of how these commitments will be delivered – particularly the thorny issue of climate finance – left for another day. This would make COP21 a political success for the French Government, whilst leaving to Moroccan stewardship in 2016 the detail that could so easily derail implementation of those very same commitments.

Click here for a link to the new negotiating text.

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