La Route a Paris

This post was co-written by Rebecca Davidson, Cynthia Sirois, and Tracy Bach

IMG_5456Just like in Warsaw last year, the final ADP decision came down to the last minute, of the last hour, of the last day of COP20/CMP10 in Lima. The ADP was originally scheduled to close in a Thursday afternoon plenary. Not for the first time at this COP, negotiators worked into the wee hours of the night on Friday hoping to come together on issues addressing how parties will communicate their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), as was directed under paragraph 5 of Decision 1/CP.17 and how parties should contribute to closing the pre-2020 ambition gap. With a newly drafted decision in hand on Saturday morning (now 16 hours after the official close of the COP), Parties were still quite clearly apart on the inclusion of loss and damage, the balance of mitigation with adaptation and finance in the INDCs, and how to ground all of this work under the Convention principles like common but differentiated responsiblities and respective capacities (CBDRRC).

COP20 President, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, has taken a very active role throughout the two-week meeting, and many have complimented his efforts to promote clarity and transparency for all Parties. As the close of the meetings neared, and with the draft decision still far from being “adoptable,” his guidance became even more determined. Having called Lima a tipping point for the new agreement, and recalling his plea to “help me…don’t leave me alone”, he officially took over the leadership of the ADP from its co-chairs. “Now”, he declared “we need to help ourselves. We are representing the world, and we are representing what the world is seeking.”

IMG_5469On Saturday morning, as parties gave their final Interventions, the singular point of accord was that the draft decision was not ideal for anyone. Nonetheless, a range of parties endorsed adopting the late Friday night draft decision with warts and all, as a basis for working toward more agreement in the upcoming Geneva ADP negotiations specially schedule for February 2015.

Negotiating blocs such as EIG (with Switzerland speaking) and AILAC (with Chile speaking) were willing to move forward with the current draft. Ditto EU, US, Japan the Russian Federation and New Zealand. Singapore, Belize and the Marshall Islands also urged Parties to move forward with the current text, despite its imperfections.

But as the Saturday morning ADP plenary continues, a dichotomy emerged. Whether labeled as red lines or red flags, the rift over how the decision refers to the tenants of the Convention, and its provisions and principles, surfaced again and again. Between developed and developing countries, major disagreement about how differentiation and the so-called binary system of responsibility falls out within the framework of the draft Decision, and what it implies for the agreement to be developed in Paris.

IMG_5490The Sudan, on behalf of the Africa Group, Malaysia for LMDCs, India, China and Tuvalu were not willing to compromise, asserting the needs of the vulnerable people that they represent.  Tuvalu, in particular, noted that we should not let this COP be the one where the world’s poorest were denied. They asked the COP President to reconsider the draft.

The delegate from the Marshall Islands made a very compelling plea. “We cannot leave Lima with empty hands on the road to a successful Paris agreement.” He noted that the world doesn’t have much time both at this conference and in terms of Climate Change. His country is running out of time and its very existence is in danger if the issues surrounding climate change are not resolved quickly.

After almost 10 more hours of intense, behind-closed-doors negotiations with COP President Pulgar-Vidal and ministers of Singapore and Norway empowered by him to speak with parties on his behalf, the COP20/CMP10 final plenary was held in the Lima hall.  Just minutes before midnight, a new, final draft text was presented to the room and the gavel was banged.  Nonetheless, despite the COP’s consensus position, Tuvalu asked for the floor as the gavel’s rapping and attendant applause echoed in the hall.  This small island nation, which speaks for the least developed countries negotiating group (LDCs), spoke intensely and purposefully toIMG_5474 register concerns about the need for stronger loss and damage inclusion (besides the WIM progress recognition in the text’s preamble).  Many other parties laid out their specific concerns about the divisive issues outlined from the start (see above).  In this way, the route a Paris has been laid out as a bumpy one, littered with the potholes and frost heaves borne of continued mistrust and unresolved applications of the major shift away from “top down” international climate change obligations (as embodied in the Kyoto Protocol) to nationally driven commitments.

Stay tuned for more detailed analysis of the final text and the path of negotiations to a new agreement.