Limping to Paris
Ban Ki-moon Worried About State of Climate Summit

The momentous (we’re promised) climate summit in Paris is almost upon us, and with talks scheduled to begin in just over three months, the chorus of discontent over a lack of preparation is growing. We’ve had everyone from the French president to the UN climate chief to the EU climate chief¬†express dismay at stalling momentum and sluggish process in the run-up these last few months, but now the UN Secretary-General is getting in on the act. Reuters reports:

“We don’t have much time,” [United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon] told a news conference with French Foreign Laurent Fabius, who will preside over the Paris talks.

“I hope negotiators and ministers (will) look beyond their national interests which is why I’m asking world leaders to give a clear message to their negotiators that they should accelerate this negotiation.”

UN members were asked to make pledges to cut emissions at the national level prior to the Paris talks. These Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), as they’re called, were meant to¬†build a better foundation for negotiations than existed in the disastrous Copenhagen summit six years ago. But so far only 56 countries have followed through on their submissions, a dismal participation rate well below thirty percent.

That’s not the only worrying piece of news for the impending talks. With just ten days of official negotiations remaining before things begin in earnest, the draft text is still over 80 pages long despite concerted attempts to pare it down. The bloated document has been described as “bewildering,” but cutting out text is sure to alienate various stakeholders and nations involved. Still, the fact that delegates have been unable to significantly trim it should set alarm bells ringing.

In fact, if we’re reading the tea leaves here, the Paris summit is shaping up to be little more than a better-publicized version of these annual meetings that produce plenty of talk but precious little by way of a concrete deal.

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