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Dear Co-chairs, shall we trust you?

By February 12, 2015 No Comments

I want to be honest: what happened yesterday during the afternoon session of the ADP really impressed me.

I am pretty sure that most of us, climate-geeks, weren’t expecting this conference in Geneva to deliver a streamlined text of the Elements draft, compiled in Lima after over a year of hard negotiations.

Kishan Kumarsingh and Artur Runge-Metzger, elected as ADP co-chairs in June 2013, adopted a procedure which was basically this: countries to express their positions, and the co-chairs would then try to turn them into a text, which would reflect most of their visions.

It was a long and stressful process, and I can’t count the times we, civil society, were told we needed to be patient, or even patient and inpatient at the same time (yes, someone actually said that); because that was, maybe, an exhausting process, but we were told it was “the only way forward”.

Maybe it was, until yesterday.

As just-elected Ahmed Djoghlaf and Daniel Reifsnyder took the floor last Sunday, in fact, delegates immediately realized something was going to change. New co-chairs decided to adopt a new methodology, one that countries have been asking for ages: a Party-driven process.

In a few minutes, Djoghlaf and Reifsnyder basically took the Lima text and throw it to the bin, encouraging countries to start over by proposing completely new paragraphs for the text. Like, “hey, forget everything you’ve done so far, and put in anything you want”.

Parties seems to have really appreciated this approach, but personally I found this turning back as frustrating as when you are leading a F1 race with a 1 minute advantage, and then the safety car gets in.

So, after going through all the sections once again “at an unprecedented rate” (so said the co-chairs, I just wonder how they could have lost time by only adding new text, without even debating it…), we now have an 80+ pages document. Or, more than twice the document we got here with.

And if that wasn’t enough, yesterday the co-chairs announced it will be “up to Parties” whether to start streamlining today, or tomorrow; otherwise, we will just close the meeting one day ahead (a never-seen in UNFCCC history), go home and see each other again in Bonn next June.

In which case, we would basically waste over one day of potential discussions, without mentioning the 3 hours wasted every day (works were supposed to last until 8 pm daily).

I understood that new co-chairs wanted to establish a “climate” of trust with Parties, by leaving them more space and power; but rather than a Party-driven process, this seems to have become a Parties-can-do-whatever-they-want process.

In conclusion, I only see two ways of looking at the current scenario.

  1. The co-chairs were not expecting something like 50 new pages of additional proposals, which made the text unmanageable and put it out of their control. In which case, although I have always been a very rational engineering-optimist, I would probably see this failure as the headstone over the Paris agreement.
  2. The co-chairs are the geniuses. Their strategy was to initially gain trust from Parties, and then to do something so ridiculously senseless to induce a pride-reaction from some countries, like: “hey, wait, we should be doing something here!”. This would also include having a clear strategy for the next months leading up to Bonn’s interessional, and would also explain the request for two additional ADP session made just before Geneva.

This is, in summary, the only idea that keeps my hopes alive. We can only trust the co-chairs know what they are doing…

Federico Brocchieri

About Federico Brocchieri

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