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‘Progress’ at COP21 talks

King Norodom Sihamoni delivers a speech during the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 last month at Le Bourget, on the outskirts of the French capital of Paris.
King Norodom Sihamoni delivers a speech during the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 last month at Le Bourget, on the outskirts of the French capital of Paris. AFP

‘Progress’ at COP21 talks

One week of scheduled talks remain for negotiators at the UN Climate Talks in Paris (COP21) and a new draft text for an agreement released on Saturday leaves a lot to “push forward” on – despite some positive outcomes – according to the Kingdom’s civil society delegation.

The new draft text has been significantly reduced from the nearly 100-page document that resulted from the previous round of negotiations in Bonn, Germany. The previous 100-page Bonn version had left some negotiators concerned and legal experts estimating it would take years for a final agreement to be ready when only weeks remained.

“In general, there is a lot progress here, despite still [having a] number of brackets in the draft agreement,” said Nop Polin, a delegate representing a broad coalition of Cambodian civil society organizations.

In the draft agreement, so-called bracketed text refers to language that is provisional and has yet to be agreed upon by negotiators. Counting the number of brackets removed can be a way of measuring what progress has been made.

“Despite some blocks from giant oil production countries,” Polin said, he was pleased with the commitment to the scientifically advised 1.5-degree Celsius limit on the rise in global temperatures as a long-term goal.

While a 2-degree rise, the threshold for catastrophic consequences, is still set as the upper limit, the inclusion of the 1.5-degree mark was a major goal for civil society going into the talks.

Meanwhile, securing climate change adaptation and mitigation financing, as well as loss and damage agreements, key issues for the Kingdom and other developing nations, is still uncertain.

“Some commitments by the UK, EU, France, Canada, Australia, Sweden and Germany have already contributed [to] climate finance and will continue to do so,” he wrote, adding that, while “still in brackets”, further expansion of such financing is on the table.

Loss and damage is distinguished as a more short-term “insurance” for natural disaster-stricken countries to draw upon. It is now in the text, but also in brackets.

Furthermore, sustainable development is still being obstructed by countries whose economies rely heavily on oil.

“Related to finance, OPEC oil-producing countries are also attempting to block language on turning economies away from fossil fuels – something generally agreed [upon] by everyone else in the negotiations,” Polin said.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that a reduction in the length of a version of a climate agreement drafted in Bonn, Germany had caused concern among negotiators and experts. In fact, it was the Bonn document's original 100-page length that had caused concern. The Post apologises for any confusion.

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