Climate drama: Emotion and rhetoric grips talks in its final phase

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 10, 2015 13:46 IST
French Foreign affairs minister and acting president of the COP21, Laurent Fabius is seen on giant screens during the 'Committee of Paris' plenary work session at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Le Bourget. (AP)

The first war of words full of high drama and emotion broke out in Paris on Wednesday night as countries including India expressed strong reservation over the first ministerial draft showing huge divergence.

Before ministers went into a late night huddle, countries expressed differences in almost all elements of the Paris draft, except adaptation, with the newly formed ambition alliance of the rich and most vulnerable coming into play to apparently isolate emerging economies like India and China.

But, got retort from Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), having India and China as members, saying the Paris agreement cannot impede their poverty and food security goals and undermine the UN climate convention.

Speaking on behalf of LMDC, Gurdial Singh Nijar of Malayasia said the attempt was being made to shift the responsibility of rich nations to developing world without providing adequate finance and technology transfer. He expressed his reservation over copyright and unilateral measures not addressed in the draft.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said “polluters and victims cannot be put at the same level” while emphasising on differentiation in all elements of the agreement and expressed “disappointment” over developed countries trying to shift finance responsibility to the developing world.

Reiterating G-77 plus China stand, Javadekar sought differentiation as per principles of the convention to be stated “upfront”, removal of its dilution and adequate reference to historical responsibility of the rich nations.

He also provided clarity on India’s stand on the long term goal of 1.5 degree by 2100 saying the target can be met only if rich nations massively upscale finance and emission reduction targets, which was not happening.

However, island and least developed nations said 1.5 goal was not non-negotiable for them, indicating that it could be a new flash-point among the developing countries in the coming days. They also wanted the five year review period leading to enhancement of climate actions plans as being sought by US and European Union.

A minister from the group even went to the extent of saying he cannot go home without 1.5 target and mechanism to seek compensation for loss and damage. “We are not begging for sympathy because climate change threatens our economic stability and finding solution,” said a representative from Barbados.

Saudi Arabia, another member of LMDC, sought to know the definition of “position to do so” for providing climate finance by developing countries as sought by rich nations saying the proposal can “infringe” on national sovereignty. The term means advanced developing countries will have to provide finance except vulnerable nations.

Some developed countries made it clear that the text favoured rich nations and the balancing language provided by negotiators on Saturday had got removed. They expressed concern about return of carbon pricing in the text and an attempt being made to re-open the negotiations at the late stage of the conference.

The rich nations also outlined its concerns on the draft with Switzerland, European Union and Umbrella Group, having US as member, saying a common review and verification was a must for an “ambitious” Paris agreement.

They also said that the “hardline” position (by developing countries) cannot be seen as a “landing zone” for a balanced agreement and said post 2020 finance should be available only for poorest nations.

Rich nations clearly reiterated that the first review of the country’s climate actions plans should take place latest by 2021 and warned against black-sliding on the commitments being made. They sought insertion of emissions from bunker fuels --- aviation and shipping --- into the draft.

There was also demand of having human rights, gender equality and rights of indigenous people adequately reflected in the preamble of the final draft, thereby making it operational in all elements. “We have a long night ahead,” conference president Fabius said in his concluding remarks at the plenary.

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