If the U.N. climate negotiations are like middle school, then Twitter is where the hallway gossip happens.
As the first day of the ADP 2-11 session wrapped up Monday, whispers of an alleged “U.S. conspiracy to sink Paris” began trending on Twitter. The buzz made its way to the CAN International press briefing room when a ClimateWire reporter asked the panel to comment on a rumor that ADP Co-Chair Daniel Reifsnyder of the United States is sabotaging the upcoming COP 21 negotiations by butchering the draft Paris Agreement.
Liz Gallagher, leader of the climate diplomacy program at E3G, deftly fielded the question by defending the Co-Chairs’ work and pointing out that everyone is having a “love/hate” relationship with the draft—“it’s not just a North-South thing.” While her answer may not have quashed talk of a U.S. conspiracy to upset Paris, the exchange raises interesting questions about how parties are reacting to the Co-Chairs’ “non-paper” and the recent influx of INDCs.
As we’ve seen, many parties are not taking the sizable cuts to the 90-page Geneva Negotiating Text well. Developing countries argue that the slimmer, 9-page draft ignores adaptation and finance, while developed countries find the draft’s mitigation goals too vague. Dr. Saleemul Huq of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development told the same press briefing room Monday that the draft was “all hat and no trousers.” Some believe the Co-Chairs’ aggressive edits to the draft text were “a deliberate attempt to temporarily ‘take some heat’ while ultimately putting pressure on the Group of 77.”
The “U.S. text” conspiracy theory was sparked in part by an article published by Business Standard, India’s leading business daily, entitled “Developed world’s climate change targets less than fair.” The article references a report finding that the U.S. has committed to only a fifth of its “fair share” in its INDC while “almost all developing countries, including India and China, have taken on more than their fair share of the burden” through their INDCs.
While not suggesting that the U.S. is intentionally monkey wrenching Bonn, yesterday’s buzz-worthy report, “Fair Shares: A Civil Society Equity Review of INDCs,” supports India’s position that developed countries like the United States should do more to close the emission ambition gap. The report finds that Japan, Russia, the EU, and the United States have the starkest gaps between their climate ambitions and their fair shares.
As evidenced by press room activity this week, ADP 2-11 news is moving quickly from hallways to headlines as parties’ reactions and positions are captured by the nearest smart phone user, posted to social media, and filtered through media outlets within hours. While this process keeps negotiations transparent and informs the public – without carefully tracking the draft text, the Fair Shares report, INDCs, and other party communications – it’s easy to lose sight of what’s actually happening on the ground in Bonn.