Last meeting ahead of COP21 calls for “ambitious compromise”

Less than a moth before COP21 kicks off in Paris, an three-day meeting to discuss key issues on the table was held from November 8 to 10 at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

More than 60 ministers attended the pre-COP event, representing all major groups of the negotiation: OECD countries, the G77 and China, the least developed and the small island developing states (SIDS). Also representatives of major oil producing countries as Qatar and Saudi Arabia were present.

At the opening, COP21 President Laurent Fabius unsderscored that the previous two informal ministerial meetings have enabled progress and streamlined negotiations. The agenda of the pre-COP focused on four main issues: ambition, fairness, actions to be implemented by 2020 and post-2020 financing.

As for ambition, the main aim was to agree on including a clause for an upward and periodic revision of national commitments. In this regard, the official UNFCCC press release reported a large consensus on the necessity of such provision. Furthermore, ministers agreed on the necessity of a “no backtracking” clause (i.e. each new objective must be more ambitious than the previous one).

Discussion also focused on the fairness and burden-sharing approach to be applied on the contributions of the Parties. As the UNFCCC reported, the meeting was characterized by a wide consensus on establishing a single system, with flexibility depending on national capabilities.

Several points concerning pre-2020 action were also examined. Parties considered the proposal of monitoring the commitments to be achieved by 202 with specific round in 2017 or 2018. Attention was also given to the role played by non-state actors. Ministers called for the continuation of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, an initiative showcasing commitments by companies, subnational authorities and investors. This themes will be further discussed at the COP during the Action Day (December 5).

Further attention was raised on post-2020 finance by Fabius, which commented on Nov. 8  that “positions are still barely defined”. The official communication reported “positive signals for new financial announcements during the Paris Climate Conference, to achieve the goal of $100 billion”. According to the release, the possibility of including in the list of donors those developing countries capable of doing so  “is increasingly accepted”. However, G77 representatives recently declared to disagree with a non Annex-based division of the financial contribution, thus it is yet uncertain the extent to which consensus could be achieved on the issue.

The draft of the agreement released at the end of October left many options open. Fabius commented that despite “many people would have liked that text to be shorter, with fewer options”, it was structured in a “balanced”, “equipped” and “ambitious” way, and stressed the fact that it was agreed by all the parties, “which wasn’t always the case at the previous COPs”.

UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres described the pre-COP meeting as “one of the most productive pre-COP talks”, and that it helped reaffirm that a “deal is possible, it is necessary and it is urgent”.

Similarly to past COPs’ procedure, the first week of the Paris conference will be dedicated to finalizing the draft agreement that will be handed to Fabius on Sunday, Dec 6. This version will then be up to the ministers and heads of delegation for the final approval.

A number of preparatory meetings will take place between Nov 23 to 28.


(Image: UNFCCC Executive Secretary with Minister Laurent Fabius and Ambassador Laurence Tubiana, Bonn Oct 2015. Credit: UNclimatechange/Flickr)