By Gerardo Honty *
As has happened in other COPs, the president of the summit - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius - has created a special group for the negotiation called, in this case, the “Paris Committee” that addresses the most complicated issues in four subgroups .
The first is on “Implementation” and addresses issues related to financing, technology transfer and capacity building. The second group deals with “differentiation” a central issue, since the level of commitment that some developing countries could assume depends on this debate. The third deals with "ambition" and looks at the long-term goals - particularly if the goal is to keep the temperature rise below 2 ° C or 1.5 ° C - and the review of reduction commitments. of greenhouse gases. The last of the groups will negotiate the actions to be taken before 2020.
At the same time, facilitators of Informal Consultations are maintained, on other issues that are not easy, such as Forests, Adaptation and the Carbon Market, among others.
Opening this second week of negotiations, COP 21 President Laurient Fabius reminded the assembled delegates: "A week ago the leaders of 150 countries pledged to do everything to reach a solid global agreement, necessary to overcome the challenge." And he added: "This week you will have the opportunity to contribute to eliminating poverty, developing clean energies, and creating jobs, opening prospects and reviving hope for tomorrow."
Fabius's words sound encouraging. But the dilemma facing negotiators is how to eliminate poverty and create jobs while reducing the emissions that come from economic growth and the increased production and consumption that comes with it. National contributions submitted to the COP (INDC) show what countries are willing to reduce in a possible scenario within their development and growth plans. But this scenario leads us to an increase in temperature above 3 ° C, so it seems difficult to reconcile the president's expressions.
The main topics of the negotiation remain in the same uncertainty as at the beginning. Namely:
-The binding or non-binding nature of the agreement. That is, if the commitments assumed will achieve the status of an international treaty with compliance obligations for all countries, if it will be binding only in some aspects or if it will not represent any obligation at all.
-The temperature target. The Copenhagen goal (2009) of limiting the temperature to 2 ° C is insufficient and since then the need to reduce it to 1.5 ° C has been maintained. This change in the objective would imply duplicating the current efforts presented in the INDCs and its modification seems difficult.
-The intermediate goals to reach the zero emissions objective between 2060 and 2080 proposed in the draft and the base year that must be considered to compare the emission reduction. These data are key to designing the path of reduction, the moment of reaching the “peak” of emissions and especially the costs that the transformation demands.
-The concept of "differentiation", which hovers throughout the text and which could imply commitments to reduce emissions and financial contributions for some developing countries.
As can be seen, all the issues are interrelated and although President Fabius makes every effort to establish working groups and discussions in parallel, finally everything must converge in a single negotiation. This has happened in all COPs and as is often stated "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed." In other words, the progress of the COP cannot be evaluated until the last draft decision without square brackets appears on the table.
Therefore, the only thing that can be affirmed at this point in the COP march is that everything occurs within the normal and expected apparent inefficiency with which these negotiations usually occur. Only at the end will we be able to discern if appearances have deceived us and there was a background framework more or less hidden from most of us -and that advances faster than what is seen on the surface- or if what is seen is all. that there really is.
In this case, and as expected, the agreement will be quite useless. Although it will keep the promise of being reviewed in five years with the hope that, this time, it will be as ambitious as it has been promising for 20 years.
* Gerardo Honty is an analyst at CLAES (Latin American Center for Social Ecology)