With leaders still not getting along regarding already agreed upon universal basic issues such as human rights, gender equality and financing of developing countries, many unresolved issues continue to lurk in the pre-Paris talks. Up until to date, it has proved particularly difficult to draw the negotiations into a substantial understanding between the various parties involved.
So far at the Bonn negotiations in Germany, many key issues have been left open. With most of the leaders seeking that the draft be broken down into simpler categories and streamlined, negotiations have therefore been divided into three important parts;
The legally binding aspects of the agreement.
The parts that will need to be decided on in Paris.
And the “graveyard” section of the text which includes everything else that is still unclear
These divisions would make it seem like there is a possible compromise being reached. However when the issue of “loss and damage” in which developing countries would receive assistance to help them cope with extreme weather events is categorized under the “graveyard section”, then a lot seems to fall apart. Many negotiators are left unsatisfied. The frustration from the representatives is eminent and threatens a breakdown of the negotiations.
This categorization solicited a reaction from Harjeet Singh, a climate policy manager at ActionAid, who, concerned about developing countries being ignored, said he was “seriously concerned about the fragile progress.” “The US and EU took baby steps towards agreeing to deal with climate damages for vulnerable countries, but insisted on leaving this out of the core agreement. Its exclusion will likely cripple a deal in Paris.”
Clearly, this categorization only goes to highlight the fact that what should be in the core agreement has not yet been settled. This unsettlement takes the negotiations back to square one, the original divide between the developed and developing countries.
Moving on though, progress has been made in the tabling of emissions targets by leading developed and developing countries, most of which have now set out goals on reductions on GHG emissions to take effect after the year 2020. Unfortunately, these are not only falling short of scientific advice, the parties are quite adamant to make any ambitious changes. On top of this, quite a number of countries still haven’t handed in their Intended Nationally Determined Commitments (INDCs) even with the deadline looming around the corner.
However also at hand now is the unresolved problem of what measures should be taken to scale up countries’ emissions targets in the immediate years following 2015 before 2021, when the new targets come into effect; for instance; how the preservation of forests should be treated under the text or how to review national targets to ensure they are fair and monitored.
In the meantime, negotiations will continue till October. With a couple more meetings lined up, some in bigger and others in smaller groups, I do hope that the negotiators pick up on the urgency of the matter and act accordingly in these subsequent meetings.
Also later on this September, a major meeting of the heads of state and high ranking officials is expected in New York discussing SDGs and climate change issues are expected to feature. My hope is that a remarkable deal is struck that will in some way bring all the countries on board creating a more clear cut path to the final negotiations in Paris although at this point, such success almost feels like wishful thinking.
Nevertheless, leaders should be tending more towards agreement. Proper ground work for an achievable and implementable plan should be starting to fall into place. This 3 decade long process is still not in good standing despite all the time and resources invested in it.
In the end, all time and effort will have been wasted if leaders insist on being head strong and going back and forth on their word. Many negotiators still feel like victims because they feel their critical issues aren’t being taken care of, the most affected parties in this case being developing countries.
If COP21 has any chance of being the last meaningful action taken to prevent a historic climate catastrophe, then leaders must realize that there isn’t any time left and any trivialities should be set aside and focus set on pushing the agreement forward rather than delaying it.