“Spirit of Lima has transformed into spirit of Geneva, en route to Paris”: Christiana Figueres

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13 February 2015

LONDON: The climate negotiations in Geneva have just delivered a new negotiating draft text for the crucial talks that will take place in Paris later this year.

The skeleton of the 38-page document was approved at the Conference of the Parties (COP) 20 in Lima last December, and has now grown to 86 pages containing all the different instances of how governments can commit to tackle climate change before the Paris agreement.

The Climate Group’s Senior Policy Manager, Damian Ryan, said of the productive week which concludes today: “While negotiators have doubled the length of the text, they’ve now at least put a cap on what’s in there – which suggests that everyone is happy that all their issues are covered.

“The much harder work to streamline the text and reduce the number of options will begin in Bonn in June, but things seem to be more advanced and positive than they were at the same stage in the lead up to the Copenhagen summit in 2009. There is lots to do and nothing certain, but I think we can be cautiously optimistic at this point.”

The same optimism is shared by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):

During the closing briefing of the conference, Christiana Figueres remarked: “I am extremely encouraged by the constructive spirit and speed at which negotiators have worked during the past week.

“We now have a formal negotiating text, which contains the views and concerns of all countries. The Lima Draft has now been transformed into the negotiating text and enjoys the full ownership of all countries.”

The downside of this additional work is that when parties meet again in June in Bonn, Germany, there will be many more pages to discuss – and some governments already want to work on streamlining the text.

But the UNFCCC Executive Director believes this conference is important for building trust and optimism, with a growing realization that policy needs to fall in line with science. Much work was also done on the text at a deeper level, with many corrections made.

The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) is the UN body in charge of developing the protocol to be signed at COP21 Paris. The text approved in December will bind all the parties to take immediate climate actions to keep the increase of global warming below 2 Celsius degrees and avoid the catastrophic effects of the climate disruption.

The draft text approved today is the foundation to achieve such a goal. But Paris is not the end of the road: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stressed we must peak global emissions by 2020, reaching zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century and zero CO2 emissions by around 2050.

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