We’re just two weeks away from the start of the COP21 climate talks in Paris, and the terrible violence endured by the city last Friday is sure to cast a pall over the proceedings. As Reuters reports, France has already moved to cancel concerts and marches planned around the summit, paring down the event to just the nuts-and-bolts negotiations:
[French Prime Minister Manuel Valls] told RTL radio that “a series of demonstrations planned will not take place and it will be reduced to the negotiations … a lot of concerts and festivities will be canceled.” […]
Mainstream groups say they will respect any bans, decreed under emergency powers in France after the attacks on Friday that France blamed on Islamic State.
But while the negotiations themselves will go on, they don’t look likely to produce substantive results. The noises out of the G-20 meeting in Turkey over the weekend paint a picture of deep divisions on the issue, as negotiators struggled with the climate change paragraph in the group’s joint statement. One official said about the discussion over that paragraph that “[a]t certain times I was feeling that we’re not living on the same planet.”
This summit doesn’t get any prettier by viewing it from other angles, either. The UN’s own climate chief has already admitted that the 2C goal is a non-starter, and John Kerry’s recent comments about how Paris won’t produce a “treaty” ought to put to bed any hopes that the summit might produce anything more than a green version of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.
With a binding Global Climate Treaty essentially off the table, countries more taken with the idea of typical green policies (read: the EU) will realistically be pushing for two things. First, they want a way to make sure nations are keeping to their commitments as outlined in the pledges they’ve been asked to submit to the UN, though that hope has already gotten pushback from India and Saudi Arabia. Second, they’re looking for a mechanism that would allow the UN to exact further national commitments going forward—again an idea that won’t be welcome in the developing world.
On the other side, developing countries have said that they won’t sign on to a deal unless it has concrete promises for climate financing—a more diplomatic way of saying “show me the money.” Each one of these goals makes at least one group of stakeholders at the negotiating table very nervous, and taken together they make the task of Paris’s delegates unenviable.
Making matters worse, the draft text that negotiators will be working with is already chock-full of points of contention, as the FT reports:
[T]here was so much bickering over the draft text at the last meeting in Bonn in October that the final document going to Paris is far from concise. At more than 50 pages it is shorter than the drafts that went to Kyoto or Copenhagen but it is still highly repetitive and confusing. There are several competing options for almost every important clause in it. […]
The problem is not just that there is a plethora of rival options on the most basic points, including how much countries should collectively cut global emissions by and when. The larger difficulty is that there is so much in it that the EU, the US and other countries most eager for a successful deal will find almost impossible to swallow.
Anyone interested in getting a more complete picture of the uphill slog awaiting negotiators in Paris would do well to read that FT piece in full—it gives an excellent run-down of the many, many points of contention that still remain.