World gets together one last time in Paris to save the earth

By: | Published: December 13, 2015 1:07 AM

France’s Fabius presents ‘ambitious, balanced’ climate deal for approval

Climate negotiators in Paris were faced with a make-or-break moment on Saturday as they studied a final draft text that can either get translated into a historic global agreement or be the reason for a major international embarrassment.

“It is the moment of truth,” French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who is presiding over the conference, told negotiators just ahead of the emergence of the draft agreement text, the fifth that has come out during the course of the two-week climate meet. The previous four were not agreeable to all the countries.

The latest text has sought to introduce compromise languages to satisfy the demands of the developed and developing countries. For example, the two specific provisions related to finance that India had objected to in the previous text have been amended or removed.

One of them said developed countries should “take the lead” in mobilising climate finance “as part of a shared effort” by all countries. It is now replaced by “as part of global effort, developed country parties should continue to take the lead” in mobilising climate finance. The reference to developing countries is made separately wherein they “are encouraged to provide” climate finance “voluntarily”.

The other provision, which sought to link development aid to countries with climate considerations, has been removed.


The text has also given in to the demands of the developed countries, which wanted references to the $100-billion amount removed from the agreement text and included in the decision text. The decision text refers to another document that includes all the decisions that are being taken by the conference, adoption of the agreement being one of them. The agreement is a permanent document, while the decisions of a conference can be amended or overturned at the next conference.

The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities has been reinforced throughout the draft text, as the developing countries had been demanding.

The countries were still discussing whether the draft was agreeable to everyone at the time of going to press. If they still do not agree, the talks would break down without any agreement. No further effort to forge an agreement will be made. Countries have already faced such a failure once before, when they had aimed for a similar global agreement in Copenhagen in 2009 and were unable to stitch together a deal. That failure is still weighing on the minds of the negotiators.

“Nobody here would like to see a repetition of what happened in Copenhagen,” Fabius said. “…this kind of planetary configuration, for the agreement, has never been as good as it is today. Our responsibility to history is immense,” he said. Civil society organisations reacted positively to the latest draft text. “If agreed, this deal will represent a turning point in history, paving the way for the shift to 100% clean energy that the world wants and the planet needs,” Emma Ruby-Sachs, acting executive director of Avaaz, said.

“The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. This deal puts the fossil fuel industry on the wrong side of history,” said Kumi Naidoo, international executive director of Greenpeace. The climate agreement that countries are trying to finalise is aimed at reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, sufficiently fast to keep the global average temperatures from rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times. Such an effort would have huge impacts on the economy of every country, and possibly also on lifestyles of people everywhere.

More than 150 heads of states and governments had assembled in Paris on the opening day of the conference on November 30 to give their political backing to the negotiating process. But the schism between the positions of the developed and developing countries have remained as wide as ever, and a common ground on issues related to ‘differentiation’ and finance has remained elusive. The conference, which was scheduled to finish on Friday, is already in extra-time.

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