Down to the Wire

This post co-written by Rebecca Davidson and Cynthia Siriois

The ADP train rolled on today. hella-lineWe began the morning waiting outside Paita, a 550 person capacity negotiation room. While waiting in the long observer line, I overheard a Party delegate from an African country complain to a UN security guard when he was denied access to the room because it was already over capacity. He demanded to speak to the Co-Chairs and it seems as though his and others’ voices were heard. The meeting was rescheduled for the much larger Cusco Plenary hall, which can seat over 1000. Even so, space was at a premium and parties and observers alike were packed into the pressure cooker.

A new draft text was released late last night that condensed the previous days 56 pages of alternative text into 7 pages of paragraphs with no more than three options each. Parties were given the opportunity to speak to which options they preferred and offer solutions if they were not satisfied with the specific language of a particular option.

Consensus of preferred options crossed and bisected “typical” negotiating bloc lines. For example, the USA, Colombia, and South Africa all preferred the language of paragraph 9’s option 3 which relates to communication of INDCs, and that includes a much broader list of scope and specifics. Japan, Australia, and Switzerland all supported option 2, which limits the “laundry list” approach to elements included in INDCs. Pakistan, Nicaragua, and the EU all preferred option 1 of paragraph 13 which discusses accelerating the full implementation of the decisions and enhancing pre-2020 ambition, while China and Cuba like option 3, which again provides a more detailed description of how that will occur (including an “Accelerated Implementation Mechanism” which everyone is questioning). Despite the seemingly odd preference spread, most parties commented that they were willing to find “common ground” and continue working to meet the COP President’s goal of finishing this decision before leaving Lima by Saturday.

Some Parties’ statements were particularly compelling, and stood out like a bright ray of sun in an otherwise dark (and sweltering) room. The EU was surprisingly vocal about coming back together and finding convergence, essentially wanting to move from a positions-oriented negotiating stance to an interests-based dialogue. They noted that many Parties are simply repeating statements made previously, and not helping to finalize a decision – especially with only hours remaining. As a model of their proclaimed flexibility, the EU crossed the mitigation-INDC line and suggested their willingness to be flexible on adaptation on a voluntary basis. The Philippines also proclaimed their interest in compromise. And of particular note (and with a round of vibrant applause) suggested that the human rights of indigenous people and women be included in the decision in Paragraph 14. Mexico also received a rousing applause. Both for their support for gender and indigenous people, as well as for their very recent contribution to climate funds. This is a landmark move made by a developing country, showing their willingness to open climate-finance doors and acknowledge the importance of addressing the needs of developing nations.

CuscoFor the first time this week, the sense of urgency was visceral and real. Parties will be working into the wee hours this morning, as we just learned that the Closing Plenary is scheduled (possibly) at 2 am Saturday December 13th, at the conclusion of the Contact Group finalizing a decision text. Keep your eyes out for it!

As the representative of Uganda quipped earlier today, we are “dancing to the tune of Mr. Climate Change”. Time to make a decision, and start heading toward a substantive agreement in Paris, 2015.