Road to Paris
Climate Summit Draft Document Still “Bewildering”

Ah, the wages of the UN treaty process: The current text of the climate change accord being negotiated by ministers of 200 countries ahead of December’s much-anticipated Paris summit is a “bewildering” 85 pages of various options and special pleadings, according to sources. Reuters reports:

The message from this week’s two-day gathering in Paris of around 40 countries’ delegations, including 26 with ministers, and an earlier meeting of the world’s major economies was that the negotiating text should be short – around 40 pages – and ambitious, de Brum said. […]

The co-chairs will find it hard to chop the text by half, as they have no mandate to weed out options.

Negotiators are hard at work to cut the document down, but are finding it difficult to do so. A climate change consultant is quoted in Reuters as saying, “the co-chairs have a very delicate balance to keep—they can’t cut large swathes of the text because they don’t want to alienate countries, but we do need manageable options for ministers to choose from.”

This isn’t a new problem. This spring, negotiators were already trying to pare down clauses and simplify the document, but they’ve clearly made precious little progress. With the talks just over four months away, everyone involved seems to be doing everything possible to lower expectations, from floating an alternative plan that legally binds member states to set targets but allows them to decide how they meet them, to abandoning the much-discussed 2C target, to the UN climate chief herself saying that whatever Paris produces will be more “enabling” than “punitive” (read: non-binding).

Stalling momentum, a bloated document, and shifting goals? That seems like all the necessary ingredients for a Copenhagen-like fiasco. We’ll be watching.

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