It is now the third day of the first round of this year’s United Nations climate talks began here in Geneva, Switzerland. But in a sense, negotiations are just about to happen.
Delegates from 195 countries originally started with almost 40 pages of suggestions as to what the new global climate agreement should contain. These so-called “elements of the draft negotiating text” were listed by various countries in last year’s major climate conference in Lima, Peru.
In an effort to make the consultation process more open, the two facilitators of this particular process in the climate talks asked countries to raise additional options for all sections. Last Sunday was set for the general and objectives section, as well as for mitigation, or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yesterday, we tackled adaptation and loss and damage, finance, technology development and transfer, and other smaller issues.
My fellow trackers already noted changes in the first two sections on overview/objectives, as well as on mitigation. However, from what I have seen yesterday on adaptation and loss and damage, as well as on finance, the proposals are mostly reiterations of positions of the various blocs that countries belong to.
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Least Developed Countries, African Group, Alliance of Latin American countries (AILAC) with Mexico and Dominican Republic, Arab Group, and Like-Minded Developing Countries did all call for loss and damage to have its own section in the draft agreement. Tuvalu and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations also called for a portion of the Green Climate Fund to be dedicated to loss and damage.
This is in recognition of the fact that loss and damage are beyond the reach of mitigation and adaptation actions alike. It is an important issue for developing countries because they are more vulnerable to both extreme weather (e.g. super typhoon Haiyan) and slow-onset (e.g. rising sea levels threatening to drown small islands, coral bleaching, desertification) events.
Dominican Republic raised the need for appropriate technology, which is closely linked to their other call for adaptation to be community-driven (Bolivia also called for community-based adaptation, though). They even called for gender-disaggregated data for biennial update reports; it’s a step up from the usual reiterations of the call for gender-sensitive adaptation commitments and actions.
On finance, developing countries and blocs supported Bolivia’s intervention for G77, wherein Bernarditas Muller said in an overview of the bloc’s climate finance position that climate finance should be predictable and acceptable, and that the main bulk should come from public funds.
G77 was unable to come up with exact amendments, but the Arab Group called for the second option of the guiding principles to be taken out as it undermines the climate convention (the wording in the elements text was “respective and evolving responsibilities and capabilities/the principles and objectives of the Convention”). LMDC also stated that they prefer finance to cut across sectors and that they do not subscribe to the sub-headings as they were before the new adaptation text came out a few hours ago.
This is already a glimpse as to what lies ahead in the next four days here in Geneva, as the facilitators prepare the other contact group reports and lead in translating all the options into an actual draft text.
Delegates and observers alike whom I have interviewed are satisfied with how the last two days have progressed, as they appreciate that the co-chairs are being open and even accepting of additional proposals. In previous years, the task of synthesizing and drafting reports are mostly in the hands of previous facilitators.
However, the redundant and even conflicting proposals will now have to go through the streamlining of the text. It is already becoming a politically-difficult process this third day, even though we have yet to actually negotiate on the central issues in the talks. For developing countries, equity and differentiation will be crucial, as well as financial, technical, and capacity support for adaptation actions.
A draft text on the Paris agreement can come out here in Geneva, but as another civil society observer put it, whether or not it is ambitious enough to stave off dangerous global warming is another story.