Swollen UN climate text ups workload for Paris summit

Published 16:42 on October 23, 2015  /  Last updated at 07:47 on October 25, 2015  / Ben Garside /  Climate Talks, EMEA, International

UN-led negotiations took a step backwards during this week's UN climate talks in Bonn as draft text for a global pact grew longer during the penultimate formal session before the crunch December Paris summit.

UN-led negotiations took a step backwards during this week’s UN climate talks in Bonn as draft text for a global pact grew longer during the penultimate formal session before the crunch December Paris summit.

The UNFCCC secretariat on Friday published the new text, with the main agreement portion swelling to a heavily-bracketed 34 pages, primarily to reflect complaints from developing nations that the previous nine-page version had ignored many of their proposals.

Calls to reduce aviation and shipping emissions have been included, and there are more provisions to underpin carbon markets and international trade, the absence of which had concerned some market proponents.

Market provisions in a Paris deal were given backing this week from 31 national and sub-national governments working on their own emissions pricing mechanisms, as well as from 20 business groups that urged negotiators to include wording to support international cooperation through market-based measures.

One of those 20 groups was carbon trading lobby IETA, which said the additional text included much of what it had been seeking.

“(The text) now makes clear that countries can cooperate on markets with proper accounting of transfers, and it sets policy to avoid double-counting of emissions reductions. It also creates a sustainable development crediting mechanism,” said IETA’s Jeff Swartz.

Talks ended late Friday with negotiators adopting the text to go forward to Paris without tasking co-chairing officials to write another version or organising additional negotiating days.

The EU was confident that there was enough time to clinch a deal without the extra time.

“Once the political push is there … results can be achieved in a relatively short time,” said Elina Bardram, head of the EU delegation, in a press conference on Friday.

But environmental groups warned governments that holding back on substantial negotiations threatened the overall deal.

“Everyone wants to play their cards late, but not everyone can have the ace of spades. This process is too important to be a high-risk poker game. They need to put down their cards, and play together as a team,” said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace, part of CAN, a coalition of 950 green groups.

Upcoming key dates:

Oct. 30: The UNFCCC to publish a report aggregating all but the most recent of the INDCs from over 150 parties submitted to date. Little is expected as the work won’t delve into the individual plans. Analysts at Climate Action Tracker have found that the increased action in the INDCs of major nations has brought the expected temperature rise to 2.7C this century, down from 3.1C last year.

Nov. 8-10: Pre-COP event in Paris hosted by the respective current and incoming COP presidents Peru and France. Ministers from 75 countries and representing the negotiating groups have been invited, not to negotiate text but to explore key areas of convergence.

Nov. 15-16: G20 Leaders Summit in Antalya, Turkey. Leaders of the world’s biggest economies will focus on fossil fuel subsidies. Think tank New Climate Economy has also urged them to begin preliminary work to co-ordinate and strengthen their carbon pricing policies in an effort to overcome the competitiveness concerns regarding industry.

Nov 30-Dec.11: COP21 in Paris. Includes a leaders’ event on Nov. 30, but host France said no joint declaration or outcome is expected from the leaders.

By Ben Garside – ben@carbon-pulse.com