#ParisAgreement: Points that remain in suspense

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10 Dec #ParisAgreement: Points that remain in suspense

Objectives and level of ambition of the agreement, financial support for countries of the South, and burden sharing between developed and developing countries are all difficult issues that remain to be decided on by Friday, the end of the Climate Conference, which should produce a universal pact to combat climate change.

– An “ambitious” agreement? 2°C or 1.5°C?

At the 2009 Copenhagen Conference, the States Parties decided to limit the temperature rise to 2°C compared to the pre-industrial era, which requires drastically limiting greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency measures, investing in renewable energy sources, and reforestation, amongst other things.

Many countries, including island States that are threatened by rising sea levels, consider themselves in danger beyond 1.5°C, but such an objective would require considerable efforts by the major emitters, such as China and India, who are against such a threshold.

In the text proposed on Wednesday, all options remain open, including only 2°C, only 1.5°C, or, very probably, a compromise wording reaffirming the 2°C goal, combined with “increased efforts” to achieve 1.5°C.

HOW?

Out of 195 countries, 185 have announced measures to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 or 2030. But even if these commitments are fulfilled, temperatures would still be set to rise by around 3°C.

The text is split between precise, ambitious objectives – reducing emissions by 40% to 70% (scenario to achieve 2°C) or by 70% top 95% (scenario for 1.5°C) by 2050 compared to 2010, or the achievement of zero emissions” by the middle of the century – and vague wording, only committing the Parties to act “over the course of this century”.

CARBON OR NO CARBON?

Should the text also include the idea that we will eventually have to do without fossil fuels? This is a prospect that is opposed by oil- and coal- producing countries. One of the formulations proposed is “climate neutrality”, the vagueness of which infuriates NGOs.

REVIEW OF COMMITMENTS

One of the key provisions of the agreement is the creation of a review mechanism for the commitments of the various countries. It has already be decided that it will take place every five years and that there will be a “progression” on each occasion compared to the previous commitments. But when should it start?

The date of 2020/2021 has been proposed for new commitments. Two milestone reviews could also take place in 2018/2019, then in 2023/2024.

– Developed and developing countries: who does what? – The 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established a strict division between developed and developing countries in the sharing of obligations.

The industrialized countries, especially the United States, would like to increase the flexibility of this division, but countries like India refuse to abolish it, in the name of their right to development and the historic responsibility of the countries of the North for climate change.

This particularly sensitive point arises throughout the draft agreement, particularly concerning the sharing of emission reduction efforts. The choice remains open: either only developed countries take absolute emissions reduction steps, or all countries then join them in that later on.

– Financial support for developing countries: in 2009, the rich countries promised to spend $100 billion per year by 2020 in order to fund the climate policies of developing countries.

The latter want that budget to be increased after 2020, to finance their clean energy sources as well as measures of adaptation to the effects of global warming (embankments, weather warnings, resistant crops, etc.), emphasizing the importance of more predictable “public funds”. A balance seems to have been found between these two areas of spending.

But industrialized countries do not wish to be the only ones paying, and want a contribution from countries like China, South Korea, Singapore and the rich oil-producing countries, for example.

One option proposes that “All Parties” should contribute, but “with developed country Parties taking the lead”. Another option only requires efforts from developed countries.

(With the AFP News Agency)

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