“A journey of a thousands miles begins with a single step”, Lao Tzu once said.
Despite loving that quote, from a young UNFCCC observer’s perspective the (very) long journey ahead of the ADP seems a bit like a sprint finish.
Last February, ADP Co-chairs (the guys who manage this race) left most negotiators astonished when they decided to re-open the Lima text. This means talking over things they had already, apparently, decided. Suddenly, the agreement rapidly grew from 37 to 88 pages within a week.
We will have to wait until Paris to say whether this was a key to success or the basis for the biggest negotiating failure of this century: what’s for sure now is that this decision made things more complex on a technical side.
As climate talks resumed in Bonn today, you would expect Parties to start making concrete progress in the streamlining process. However, this doesn’t really seem to be on schedule, at least during the first week, leaving a lot to the next two shorter sessions.
Going through the Co-chairs information briefing released last week, you rapidly realise they don’t want to take many risks. That’s the reason why they decided – any way this round of talks will go – to keep the Geneva negotiating text before the Parties until COP21: the outcome of this session will result in fact in a new “working document”, which will be brought forward in the hope to get a more streamlined, concise and manageable negotiating text.
Personally, I find this approach extremely risky: with just 10 more days of negotiations between the end of this conference and Paris (5 days in August-September, 5 more in October), a lack of concreteness may be extremely costly. A successful session requires going beyond the relatively simple management of repetitions and overlaps, getting to discuss the hot decisions. This didn’t happen at all in Geneva, and may not happen seriously here in Bonn.
But it’s not just civil society being concerned. As RTCC reported last week, France would be ready to step in if the negotiating process didn’t go in the right direction by the end of the summer. Apparently, this would even involve the release of a new document by the French Presidency:
“We don’t want that, so we will push and press for everyone to deliver a shorter text by the end of August – really defining what needs to be decided in Paris, what will be decided after and what are the core principles in the agreement”, French climate ambassador Laurence Tubiana affirmed.
Trying to see this scenario from a different side, we can’t deny that Co-chairs seem to be quite confident with the process established, trusting that all Parties will keep working under the “Geneva spirit”.
We will get a first sense of the on-going work on Thursday 4, when contact groups will be convened. By that time, we hope that at least a few basic principles and topics will be consolidated, as the mentions to intergenerational equity, education (article 6) and women and gender, which are crucial for a fair and ambitious agreement.