2 steps forward, 1 step backward

IMG_6375It would be easy to characterize the last 1.5 days of ADP negotiations as a setback.  The tune,“What a  difference a day makes”, ran through my mind while sitting in Room XIX.  The bounce felt by all from the productive sessions on Sunday and Monday and the first half of Tuesday dissipated quickly as Parties and ADP Co-Chairs struggled to agree on the next steps in the negotiation process.

It’s important, however, not to overstate what happened.  The Co-Chairs were looking for a way to move the Parties from the relatively simple process of amending the Lima draft elements text to the more fraught, collective work of streamlining it.  The product of the halcyon early days of this week in Geneva now weighs in at more than 100 pages.  Everyone agrees that while it is “owned” by the parties, it is unwieldy – and hard to present outside Room XIX as a way to keep planetary warming in check.

Yet there was a time lag between the Parties making their amendments and the Secretariat being able to produce a revised text.  That lag is further compounded by a need for Parties to review it for accuracy and then analyze it, in whole and its individual parts – and then consult with their negotiation groups about how to streamline it.

So, as a practical solution, the Co-Chairs proposed discussing how to streamline the Lima text (“the text as it started”), as an exercise for doing theIMG_6374 same with the Geneva text, as it’s come to be called, when it was out and ready for the limelight.  These ideas would be captured in a separate document (from the draft agreement negotiating text) that Parties could “reflect on” between now and Bonn, when text negotiations are to begin in earnest.  Co-Chair Reifsnyder assured Parties that this was the “beginning of discussion, not end” and said bluntly that “there’s no way we’ll take a 300-page text to Paris.”

That’s when the Parties suggested, with increasing vehemence, that this approach was moving backward, not forward. You can read yesterday’s ENB for more detail. After about 2.5 hours of back and forth and round and round, several practical suggestions emerged:  wait for the Secretariat to finish the last updates (which are all now available here); ask the Co-Chairs and Secretariat to do the “technical” work by creating a table of similar/overlapping provisions (which will also help Parties see divergences) and even empowering Co-Chairs to remove duplications or very similar language; and give the Parties and their negotiating groups more time to consult with one another. In the end, the Co-Chairs acknowledged their desire to move ahead with the new text, and so adjourned early (with the admonishment to use the extra time for group consultations), called for a 10am start today with an open discussion on what the new agreement structure could look like, then spend the afternoon working on streamlining.

IMG_6370But the Co-Chairs didn’t have the last word.  Several parties spoke up, urging each other not to waste time.  “If we want to be ready for Paris, we need to get to work as soon as possible,” said Mexico, adding pragmatically that despite the growth of the Geneva text, there is “nothing new under the sun. If we keep on giving one more day, at the end we’ll have no more days left, let’s get back to the text as soon as possible.”  Brazil phrased it more philosophically, in terms of negotiation dynamics.  “The point is that we’re engaged in a collective exercise, to build mutual trust, and it’s important that every Party can see themselves in this revised text.  But we can’t keep adding.  We must engage in the negotiating process to build bridges.  We needed a comprehensive document as the basis.  Now we have a document that includes those elements that weren’t there when we left Lima.” So it is time to switch gears, from working individually to working collectively.

When the Parties reconvened very close to 10am this morning, they had a robust discussion about the architecture of the new agreement.  Their comments hewed closely to the specific questions posed by Co-Chair Reifsnyder, which included:

  1. How will the new agreement advance what we have in the Convention?
  2. Is this a one-time agreement or is it meant to endure through multiple periods?
  3. Mindful of the new institutional frameworks created since Copenhagen (e.g.  Adaptation Committee, Standing Committee on Finance, Technology Executive Committee, Center for Technology CN, Green Climate Fund), should they be included in the new agreement?
  4. Now that adaptation and mitigation are “seen as on par,” does that mean equal obligations? Does this logic also apply to means of implementation (MoI) like finance, technology, and capacity building?
  5. What should be in the new agreement versus COP decisions?

The Co-Chair stressed that this was an open-ended conversation not leading to a specific outcome, but rather helping to navigate the route to Paris.  He emphasized that the Parties had created this open space created “by working with such diligence and in a disciplined manner.”IMG_6371

The ensuing discussion produced plenty of disagreement. But this time, it was about substance, some of which had already been offered in submitted papers.  Again, I think that ENB captured it well in today’s edition, so I won’t repeat.

But when this conversation ended and Co-Chair Djoghlaf sought to restart the streamlining discussion, process disagreements came to the fore again.  Chile, who was poised to offer a few suggestions on behalf of AILAC, was interrupted several times by points of order.  Several delegations, including the LDCs and LMDCs, said that they simply needed more time to review the Geneva text before they could speak intelligently about streamlining. Egypt asked for the text to be put on the screen (which happened immediately). South Africa, on behalf of the G77+China, said that the first task is to get agreement on a  party-owned text – one that is “accurate” – before leaving Geneva, and also agree on the organization of work both in the two remaining days of ADP2-8, as well as at ADP 2-9 in Bonn in June.  Agreeing with South Africa, Brazil and Mexico again offered concrete steps for reviewing the Geneva text and making it more “accurate” and less redundant – one version of streamlining, perhaps.  The Marshall Islands suggested breaking into informal groups around specific provisions and Ecuador encouraged hearing from all parties the reasoning behind their proposals.  Iran asked for an attributed text that showed which countries had proposed which new language. This sparked a strong reaction, with Venezuela and Colombia making the point that once proposals are in the text, they belong to everyone.  If so, then perhaps the Parties had already started the transition urged earlier by Brazil to move from individualistic proposals to collective engagement?

We’ll see tomorrow.  When Co-Chair Djoghlaf gaveled the meeting closed, few questions had been resolved.