Paris climate agreement taking shape after a week of heated debate in Bonn
While Mexico was being hit by the strongest hurricane in history, negotiators finally managed to put the draft climate agreement back on track after a week of heated debate at the UNFCCC session in Bonn.
The draft agreement which was published on Friday October 26th late at night will be the basis for negotiation at the COP21 in Paris. It is being complemented by the workstream document on action before 2020.
If approved in Paris, the new climate agreement would be signed at the UN Headquarters in New York early 2016 and then open to ratification until March 2017, to entry into force around 2020 once a minimum threshold of number of countries and emissions has been reached. This would be a historical milestone after the failed attempt of the Copenhagen summit in 2009.
This last week of negotiations revived the tensions between the North and the South, the rich and the poor countries, with the G77 and China group accusing the US chair of watering down the agreement which had been reduced to concise 20 page long paper. As a result, the new draft is now more than 50 page long with a lot of text between brackets (which means not agreed by all Parties yet), but with the advantage of including more ambitious options.
The good news for the global union movement is that the language on “just transition for workers and decent jobs” is now back into the operational part of the draft agreement, in addition to the preambule of the text.
The climate deal should be done with workers, not without them as they will play a critical role for shifting from our fossil-fuel addicted societies to low-carbon services oriented economies.
In terms of emission reduction, 95% of countries have now submitted their national plans (or “INDCs”, Intended Nationally Determined Mitigations Commitments) with the notable exception of oil-producing countries. However, adding up these pledges would take us to a global temperature increase of nearly 3°C, while most scientists agree that more than 2°C would cause irreversible changes and loss for the planet and humanity.
The 20 most vulnerable countries who now call themselves the “V20”, including the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal and some of the Island states which are being threatened by sea level rise, actually now agree to say that staying below 1.5°C is question of survival for their inhabitants.
While most observers predict that there will be an agreement in Paris, the question is whether it will be strong enough to avoid catastrophic change.
The proposal that is now on the table also lacks a strong compliance mechanism: apart form a regular review of national actions, a “global stocktake” every five years, there would be little sanction for the countries that don’t comply with their commitments.
Last but not least, climate finance remains a sticking point: developing nations want more clarity and detail on the $100 billion promised annually by developed countries, and on boosting it after 2020, than some of their richer counterparts do. The temptation for rich countries is to recycle existing development aid under the label “climate finance” while developing countries need additional and predictable sources of finance to tackle the already devastating impacts of climate change. As the G20 leaders will meet very soon in Turkey to discuss the state of the world economy, the question of mobilizing innovative sources of finance,- such as financial transaction taxes, fossil fuel subsidies reforms and carbon taxes or emission trading schemes on the maritime and aviation transports-, might be back on the agenda.
Addressing all these questions will put us back on track towards a meaningful global agreement on climate change, now closer than it has ever been, truly within reach.