Negotiators from all corners are have stated that they are optimistic that some sort of agreement will come out of the COP21 negotiations next week. At the moment, this agreement is a huge draft filled with brackets and proposals to be edited and agreed upon. The first official week of negotiations is over, so why is it so difficult to agree and where have the negotiators made progress so far?
1.5 or 2 degrees?
It was agreed during COP16 in Cancon, that efforts to keep the global average temperature rise bellow 2 degrees was necessary in order to stay within a lower risk stage of climate change. However, the latest scientific reports on the issue state that a maximum of 1.5 degrees is necessary, and that a higher rise will cause severe damage, especially for small island states. During the COP21 negotiations, India and Saudi Arabia refuse to acknowledge or even accept references to this, which complicates the negotiations greatly. One of the most important elements of the COP21 agreements is the INDCs (the countries Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), where the individual nations track and report their effort to keep the global average temperature steady and reduce emissions. The newest analysis of the INDCs point at a 2.7 degree rise of global average temperature, which is lower than previous predictions, but still far above 2 degrees and depends on all the intended efforts to be fulfilled.
During COP15 in Copenhagen, it was agreed that a total of $100bn should be put aside to founding poorer countries green development and renewable technology. This funding is still one of the main discussions of COP21, since it is not completely regulated which countries are obligated to contribute and with how much. Right now, it is being discussed whether large developing countries also should contribute together with the rich countries, while others claim that this is already the case. According to an OECD review, $60bn has already been donated but this is far from a universal fact and poor countries dispute the calculations.
As mentioned above, the INDCs play a big role in the Paris agreement, which rises a new challenge on how to keep track of the individual progress and secure that the facts stated in the nations’ INDCs are in fact true. Firstly, there is a need to create universal ideas of how to calculate emissions and progress, and on which efforts are considered positive. Secondly, the main proposal discussed right now is a five-year revision commitment where each country has to evaluate and review their INDCs every fifth year to secure transparency. Countries like China and India has raised concerns about this mechanism, while others believe that this is necessary to increase the ambitions and stay bellow a 2 degree rise.
Loss and damage:
U.S and AOSIS (the coalition of representing 44 small islands states) are reported to be close to an agreement about loss and damage and how to compensate the nations which will inevitably suffer from climate change. The current proposal has been shorted down from 50 to 36 pages, and is believed to contain a compromise between developed and developing countries on how to compensate climate damage. Questions like how to handle future climate refugees are still to be decided upon.
China, who was believed to be one of the main hindrances of and agreement during COP15 in Copenhagen, has proved very ambitious and willing to compromise during these negotiations and within their own Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, INDC. China is a key player (and emitter) in the negotiations and it would be a milestone, if China agrees to an ambitious agreement in the end of the upcoming week.
As the negotiations proceed, the final agreement is expected to be a trade-off between the demands of the rich and the poor countries. While poor countries demand strong financing of projects and renewable energy in their countries, U.S is pushing for more transparency and an overview track of efforts from all countries.
By: Marie Sakina Chaudhri