Delegates and negotiators have worked around the clock for days (weeks, months, and years for some) to put together an agreement with prospects of being adopted. If everything goes according to plan, today, their efforts will come to fruition. COP21 President, Laurent Fabius, made an impassioned appeal this morning in support of the final text, urging delegates to set aside any remaining doubts and to approve this agreement for the good of mankind.
This afternoon the final version of the Paris Agreement was released. The plenary was originally set to reconvene at 3:45pm, after the delegates had time to review the new draft. But, in order to accommodate additional negotiation meetings, the plenary has now been rescheduled for 5:30pm. In the meantime, everyone is sitting in groups and circulating amongst constituents to review and discuss this historic document.
The venue is practically vibrating with anticipation. Yet, at the same time, there is an anticlimactic feeling in the air. Because the event was officially scheduled to end yesterday, the vendors have all vacated, the NGOs and other advocacy organizations have abandoned their posts, and most of the civil society members are either traveling home or are participating in the demonstrations throughout Paris. Booths are being deconstructed, rooms are emptying, and even the water fountains have been turned off. All of the remaining energy in the building is going toward high-level political meetings that will determine whether this agreement thrives or fails.
The mood in the observer hall rather accurately reflects my own personal feeling toward portions of the final version of the text. The agreement as a whole represents an historic shift in the global response to climate change. There are many ambitious provisions, and the Parties have done an admirable job compromising to create a workable agreement. For all those who have been lucky enough to be part of this process, it is a wonderful and exciting moment. However, the language related to the scale of developed countries’ financial commitment to climate change has been removed from the legally binding portion of the agreement, here, at the eleventh hour.
While the non-binding goal of the agreement calls upon the Parties to set a “new, collective quantified goal from a floor of USD 100 billion per year,” by 2025, the agreement itself only notes that, “mobilization of climate finance should represent a progression beyond previous efforts.” This organization leaves generic and ambiguous language in the heart of the agreement, and transitions the specific objectives to the unenforceable portion of the agreement. As someone who has focused on the finance components of this text for several months, this end result seems somewhat disappointing.
Nevertheless, this agreement does achieve many important goals and creates a framework to combat climate change that many did not think would be possible. All that is left is to wait for the Party representatives to approve it. As President Fabius noted this morning: “The world is holding its breath. It counts on all of us.”