The Paris Climate Talks: Anatomy of the Negotiations



As the citizens of France and the world mourned the loss of life in Paris in the wake of the November 13 attacks, it was troubling note the apparent parallels between the inability of the global policy community to combat both religious extremism and climate change in the lead up to the Paris climate talks (COP 21). A global menace, years in the making, largely created by the industrialised nations, reached a point where its catastrophic consequences demanded an international response. Millions of people in the less developed world have been drawn into the conflagration, and hundreds of thousands more displaced. Yet the intergovernmental regime, and the United Nations in particular, seemed powerless to do anything, paralysed by a bizarre set of mutually incompatible interests. Seeing an existential threat to their own way of life, countries that could easily have helped alleviate the suffering of ordinary civilians, squabbled amongst themselves…

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COP 21: Time for a reality check


IMG_8022Photo: Cadman 2015

As the climate talks enter their last few days in the dreary and windswept Parisian suburban town of Le Bourget, a few things are finally coming into focus – despite most of the main negotiating text, the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) still being in square brackets [i.e. no consensus].

There will be no legally binding agreement. It would be nice to be proved wrong, but this appears to be the overwhelming conclusion of most negotiators. This is the sadly predictable trend that has been emerging out of all UN sustainability initiatives since the first Rio ‘Earth’ Summit of 1992. The push is all for voluntarism, and if enforced at all, by private certification agencies, governed by self-determined standards. The nationally determined contributions (NDCs)to reducing emissions have to date remained, despite earlier fears, but with no legally binding provisions, and the push for…

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Already sinking? Climate talks hit negotiating iceberg


Iceberg2Photo: Gibbings 2015

The twenty first Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) begins its second week today, and the negotiations are foundering.

The sticking points that emerged in the wake of the past few months’ discussions in the lead up to the ‘climate talks that must not fail’ have become entrenched. The developing countries, largely represented by the Brazil and China, and the ‘Like Minded Developing Countries’ (the LMDCs), marshalled by Bolivia, are insisting that the nationally determined contributions to reducing emissions should not be included in the final agreement to come out of Paris. And they appear to have recruited the US to their cause.

The anticipated agreement, previously and somewhat optimistically referred to as the ‘Paris Accord’ or ‘Paris Treaty’ is in serious jeopardy of delivering no binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions. This would be a terrible outcome. Not…

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Paris climate talks: deja vu (again)?


IMG_1583Photo: Cadman 2015

Week one of the climate talks is now in full swing. The world leaders, having made their impassioned pleas around the theme ‘we must take action before it’s too late’ have moved on to the next summit, and the negotiators are back in charge.  At this point, things tend to revert to familiar – but somewhat depressing – COP behaviour. It can only be hoped that the political posturing which usually makes up the rest of week one, will be replaced by a greater sense of urgency, and commitment to new ways of thinking (and acting) next week.

The Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs), a somewhat volatile sub-grouping within the G77, represent some of those countries most impacted by climate change, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Sudan. It is an eclectic assortment, and also incorporates China and Bolivia (who are often the most outspoken) as well as various oil countries, such as Saudi Arabia…

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