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07 Dec 2015

Days 6-8 – and over to the Environment Ministers!

On Saturday, delegates signed off on a new 48-page draft text, and today, to kick-start the final push to reach a global agreement, Ministers from all over the world have gathered in Paris for the 'high-level' part of the talks. However, they will have their work cut out as more than 900 "square brackets" are still contained within the text and the main sticking points remain unresolved. It is still unclear whether the agreement will be legally binding in its totality or just in part; there is still a lot of contention around whether differentiation will be given a formal footing within the agreement, something developing and developed countries are clashing over; and it is still undecided whether developed countries will be legally bound to provide set levels of finance to developing countries.

There are also on-going disagreements as to the target temperature rise. At lunchtime today, the Presentation of UNEP 2015 Emissions Gap Report took place. This provided a scientific assessment of the submitted INDCs (intended nationally determined contributions) to see whether they are sufficient to ensure adherence to the target temperature increase. Whilst the INDCs demonstrate a significant increase in ambition, they suggest a temperature rise of 2.7°C, therefore missing the 2°C target. Added to this, Ban Ki-moon has stated that "even 1.5 degrees will have an impact. This objective should be the floor not the roof" and many island nations, the most vulnerable to the potentially devastating effects of climate change, are demanding a target of just 1.5°C. 
Big names are helping to promote the cause as we go into the last week, in the form of both high-profile companies and high-profile individuals. The UN's Caring for the Climate summit will feature representatives from businesses including Mars, Siemens and L'Oreal, and they will be discussing issues such as carbon pricing and science-based target-setting, alongside Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry. Further, actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Sean Penn have attended the Conference, with DiCaprio urging all mayors and governors to move to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.
Countries are expected to present the final text by Thursday, to allow time for revisions and translations. Therefore, Ministers have only two days to thrash out the remaining disagreements. Whilst these remaining issues, and the available timeframe in which to resolve them, may appear insurmountable, there is still widespread optimism that a compromise will be found. Given all the highly emotive and dramatic speeches we have heard, the pressure to find a compromise is huge. We just have to hope this pressure to agree something doesn’t jeopardise reaching the ambitious deal we have been promised! 

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