This morning's observer briefing with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and COP20 President Manuel Pulgar Vidal began with a short statement from both officials, followed by questions from various factions of civil society on aspects of the draft text, prospects for an agreement and concerns of different stakeholders. In response to questions from the business community, Figueres made it clear that the market/non-market binary is no longer being employed - that is, states and markets are no longer being treated entirely separately. Nevertheless, resolving issues of differentiation of responsibility remained a “knotty” issue. The French presidency, led by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, has been flexing its diplomatic muscles in combining bilateralism with dozens of parallel consultations - but there is rising concern from the NGO community in particular that this is coming at the expense of the protection of human rights, gender equality and indigenous peoples. With little time left to reach an agreement, there is a feeling that issues of great social importance are being skirted over in favour of reaching a deal.
The draft text in question, published after a slight delay at 3pm, confirmed many of these fears. In the 29-page document, not only was the REDD+ afforestation programme almost nowhere to be seen; references to gender equality, public health and occupied territories had been watered down or removed completely in several places, following sustained pressure from the United States and Saudi Arabia. Figueres stressed in the morning briefing that despite appearances, all of the articles remain open, including the preamble, and that the text does not represent the final agreement, rather the current state of play. She added that the text was converging towards common ground, which necessarily meant losing specificity and granularity. Civil society delegates remained unconvinced, remarking that issues of gender equality and indigenous rights are not irrelevant elements to be treated merely as granularities. Finally, an Oxfam representative noted that “access is just as vital as transparency”, and indeed that knowledge of where state negotiators were heading did not constitute offering civil society its rightful place in the drafting process.
The next 24 hours, in the context of the reaction to the draft text from civil society, will determine whether the Paris agreement will be ambitious. A document will be produced - of that there is no doubt - but the fundamental issues remain unresolved. India and China are standing their ground in the absence of sufficient climate finance, the EU’s partnership with Least Developed Countries is proving insufficient to generate mass support for a legally binding treaty, the concerns of vulnerable communities are being largely excluded, and there is strong resistance from India in particular on reporting requirements and mechanisms for ratcheting up ambition in the years to 2020. Though the political climate could not be more different, ominous echoes of Copenhagen loom large. Will the differences be resolved in time?
You can access the document here. Do you agree with the draft text? Let us know in the comments!
Alex Clark is the Project Leader for Operations at SDSN Youth. He is an MSc student in Global Governance and Diplomacy at Oxford University. He is active in the fossil fuel divestment movement, but acutely aware of the need to involve private, public and third sectors in any post-2015 agenda. All opinions expressed on the blog are the opinions of the author and not that of SDSN Youth