The last few days of a two-week COP always include their fair share of drama. After the workmanlike approach to the SBI and SBSTA agenda items during the first week, the late nights, constantly delayed and then conflicting meeting times, and inevitable sticking points between parties take their toll.
Today was no exception. After finishing its review at 1am this morning of all 36 paragraphs (and 18 pages) of the draft COP decision reissued by the co-chairs on Monday, the weary delegates and co-chairs reconvened at about 10am. While giving themselves a well-deserved pat on the back for having achieved this initial round of negotiation, reality struck when trying to decide how to move from review to reconciliation of the now 55-page text filled with dozens of alternative clauses.
Bolivia, on behalf of the G77+China, announced that China was working on a slimmed down version to propose to the group and asked for more time to complete it. When the morning meeting finally reconvened at 4:30pm, Bolivia told assembled parties that it had a revised text only for Workstream 2 (pre-2020 ambition). This news sparked a debate for more than an hour over how to consider this new draft, whether in a full contact group or in a smaller “friends of the chair” meeting with participants selected by each negotiating bloc.
The session also produced some testy moments. Malaysia complained that the starting draft text of the decision, produced by the chairs, was biased. It proudly claimed “tremendous and immense progress” during these two weeks toward better reflecting LMDC’s views. When pushed by developed country Parties as to why there was still no consensus among developing countries, the Malaysian delegate retorted “have you got convergence amongst developed countries?” The answer at the time of this meeting was no. Malaysia did not want the G77 and LMDCs to shoulder the blame for the delay.
Switzerland responded that some parties had waited too long to make their suggestions and therefore the negotiations have been extremely slow and inefficient. Switzerland submitted their proposals in March 2014 and pointed out that all parties, developed and developing alike, were able to do so. However, it should be noted that the LMDCs also submitted their suggestions in March. Switzerland reaffirmed that Parties need to develop a decision that is acceptable to all parties, not just 130 parties. This was a clear reference to the G77+China, some of whose members had developed the new draft text outside the contact group meeting and had not yet supplied it to all of its members, let alone the rest of the ADP.
With this, the ADP negotiators hit a road block. With no time remaining before the scheduled President’s Stocktaking, the session broke with no progress to show.
Thus after a week of lengthy negotiations over a draft COP decision on the implementation of all the elements of decision 1/CP.17, Co-Chair Kishan Kumarsingh had to provide a disappointing update to COP20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal: ultimately, some Parties could not recommend or agree upon how to move forward, which left Parties in a position where consensus could not be reached, and in fact appeared to drive Party agreement further apart rather than converging together.
In a very heartfelt and off-the-cuff response, the COP President implored ministers and negotiators to work together with his guidance and direction. He reminded negotiators that this is in fact a very crucial moment at Lima – with only one day remaining – and with that provided 4 observations for consideration.
First is timing. With only one day left to close the conference, it is the time to send a clear and strong message and move the process forward.
Second is to make sure we embrace the spirit of Lima, including the outcome of COP20, and to avoid the “we don’t want” phraseology. Instead proposals should be brought forward in a constructive and reasonable way to achieve the objectives of reaching a draft decision. “We will not accept leaving with empty hands; the spirit of Lima includes the outcome, not just the warm hospitality.” Bottom line: If
we leave Lima with empty hands, we will not have a deal in Paris.
Third is the importance of maintaining a transparent and party driven process. Now is not the time to develop singular approaches. We need to work with open doors, and talk to all Parties and negotiating blocs. Pulgar-Vidal exhorted delegates to “put in all your will, all your political support, to build the outcome together.”
Fourth, the President provided instruction and guidance to the Co-Chairs and parties to get back together and develop a reasonable text by 9pm tonight and then reconvene tomorrow morning at 9am. With his guidance and coordination, the text must reflect a position of all parties, and maintain the confidence of all via the text. He reminded parties, “It is not a linguistic discussion, it is a substantive discussion, and we need to show that we can advance in the discussion. Not in the words, not the commas, not in the dots, but in the substance. It must focus on the key points.” These include the draft decision providing clear and strong direction, including the upfront information required for all Parties to submit their INDCs in 2015 and to take ambitious pre-2020 action. It also includes evolving the non-paper into the elements of a negotiating text.
“Help us, help me” said President Pulgar-Vidal, in a visibly emotional way. Drawing on his 28 years as an environmental lawyer, as a participant at the1992 Rio summit and a firm believer in the value of international environmental conventions, he reiterated his plea: “We understand your domestic needs, your domestic agendas. Don’t leave me alone – work with me. Let’s bring good hope to the world, sharing a common objective.” To which the room erupted into loud and sustained applause. The COP20 President then charged the ADP to get back to work and report on its progress at a 9am stocktaking tomorrow morning. AcknowIedging the ovation from his colleagues, he smiled when he said “I appreciate your applause, but I appreciate more the applause to you tomorrow at 6pm.”
With that, the evening stocktaking ended and negotiators milled around the room, seeking out conversations with one another before returning to formal negotiations. Tonight, a 10:30pm revised decision draft was posted on the ADP site, clocking in at a slim 7 pages. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s reactions to it.