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Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

  • 05
  • August
  • 2015

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New Draft of the Paris Agreement on Greenhouse Gases Released

On July 24, 2015, a new draft of a negotiating text for a potential international agreement to limit Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions was released by the co-chairs of the U.N. ad hoc working group tasked with designing the text of the agreement. The draft negotiating text does not attempt to iron out the hot-button issues that are likely to be heavily-negotiated in Paris at the end of the year. Instead, it provides bracketed options of alternative model language within a structure that could potentially assist in framing the key issues.

Source: http://unfccc.int/files/inc/graphics/image/png/2011_logo.png


As reported in this previous post, the United Nations (“UN”) and 193 countries are working to complete an international climate accord by the end of the UN summit in Paris this December. The annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”) summit previously met in Lima, Peru in December 2014. As described in this previous post, the Lima summit resulted in a modest agreement, known as the Lima Accord, in which all parties agreed for the first time to reduce their GHG emissions.

The Lima Accord was designed to serve as the spring-board for a more in-depth international agreement at the UNFCCC summit scheduled to take place in Paris at the end of this year. Under the Lima Accord, each nation must publish a draft of its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (“INDC”) to limit GHG emissions later this year. These INDCs will then serve as the basis for the Paris Agreement, which would theoretically to go into effect by 2020 and include GHG emissions cutting targets for 2025 or 2030. Commentators have noted the plethora of concerns—ranging from the degree of emissions cuts, to monitoring methods, to compensation for developing nations—that could potentially de-rail the negotiations.

New Draft Negotiating Text

According to the ad hoc working group (called the ADP), the recently-released negotiating text was designed to “present[] clear options and does not omit or delete any option or position of Parties.” The text provides a template for the agreement, but at present largely consists of alternative forms of bracketed language that the parties could use. The variety of alternatives of this bracketed language shows just how far these negotiations will have to come in the next few months.

For example, the draft does not even have a finalized “general objective” for the agreement. The draft negotiating text includes alternative language ranging from “striving to achieve low greenhouse gas, climate-resilient economies and societies” to “achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions and maintaining and increasing resilience to the adverse effects of climate change.” The distance between these two possible objectives demonstrates just how much is left to be decided before an international agreement between nearly 200 nations can be reached.

The rest of the 83-page document is written similarly, frequently allowing the parties to select between “should” and “shall” language. The document also leaves room for so-called “developed countries” to be treated differently from “developing countries” with regard to issues like climate mitigation, or to otherwise differentiate between the responsibilities of nations based on their capabilities.

The draft text has gotten mixed reviews from commentators; some think that the organization that the text gives to the issues will be helpful to reaching a consensus, while others believe that the draft leaves too much room for debate.

The ADP will meet once more in October before the COP 21 summit in Paris at the end of the year.  

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