No accord yet, Paris climate talks go into overtime

Provisions in the new near-final outcome text would deal a blow to small island states and coastal countries that experience more intense weather events such as the Chennai floods.

Updated - November 16, 2021 04:19 pm IST

Published - December 11, 2015 02:51 am IST - Paris

Participants at the U.S. pavilion during the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris on Thursday.

Participants at the U.S. pavilion during the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris on Thursday.

The climate talks in Paris went into overtime on Thursday night, as countries hit a hurdle on three major issues — the differentiation between developed and developing nations, financial arrangements for the developing world and the ambition for a global temperature target. A new draft was released by the French presidency of the conference.

The new near-final outcome text controversially has two options on meeting loss and damage needs of developing nations. One is a general provision that talks of the averting, minimising and addressing it, and another, more detailed, excludes any regime of liability and compensation. The second provides countries help with risk assessment, risk management, insurance, help to relocate those displaced by climate event change.

If accepted, such a provision would deal a blow to small island states and coastal countries that experience more intense weather events such as the Chennai floods, since changes to climate are attributed to the historical stock of greenhouse gases emitted after the industrial revolution by Western nations.

The civil society organisation ActionAid said, “By including a clause for no future claim of compensation and liability, the U.S. has ensured people suffering from the disastrous impacts of climate change will never be able to seek the justice owed to them. This unfair and unjust draft deal won’t face up to the realities of climate change and will only serve to widen the chasm between rich and poor. Rich countries have a responsibility to ensure a fair global deal for everyone, not just themselves, and as we move into these final hours of negotiations poorer countries must not settle for anything less.”

An attempt is also seen to subsume the existing mechanism to handle loss and damage, called the Warsaw Mechanism, by creating a new one that will draw upon it and build further.

Countries would also include climate considerations including the building of resilience, into international development assistance.

On transparency, there is a provision for review of the implementation of national pledges, the INDCs through a thorough, objective and comprehensive technical assessment.

However the major issues found no accord, despite the 195 member countries in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change holding a full 24 hours of intense discussions on Wednesday's agreement draft, overnight.

On Thursday evening, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius said a further night of >“indaba” discussions would be needed with the help of facilitators in small groups. The sole idea of talks would now be to find solutions to the problems.

The COP21 president, Mr. Fabius's proposal on the “decision” arrived at by the Conference of the Parties in Paris, which will guide the the Agreement itself, has several interesting features.

The preamble has a specific reference to climate change being an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to the human species and the planet, requiring the widest possible cooperation among countries and an international response to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This acknowledges the international campaign by several organisations demanding that the agreement acknowledge the scientific evidence that underpins it.

INDCs fall short

National pledges made by countries as INDCs find a distinct place in this proposal. The section on INDCs notes with concern that the aggregate of these pledges in 2025 and 2030 are not likely to hold temperature rise to below 2 degrees C, and much greater effort will be needed after 2030 to keep it under 2°C or 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.

A global stock taking exercise [which emerging countries would have to prepare for intensively from the current year] is proposed for 2019 to assess the progress towards realising the long-term ambition for temperature rise. Also the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific body whose Assessment Reports inform the decisions of the UNFCCC, has been asked to prepare a technical report in 2018 on the impacts of a 1.5°C warming, as well as the related greenhouse gas emission pathways.

If the provision on periodic review is incorporated finally, India would have to provide an updated INDC in 2020, and submit it next pledge by 2025, as a five-yearly cycle is prescribed and get it reviewed for clarity and transparency well in advance.

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