Work begins in Geneva on first draft of new global climate agreement

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9 February 2015

LONDON: Climate change negotiators are meeting in Geneva this week to begin work on the first draft of a new international climate treaty that is due to be agreed in Paris in December.

This is the first meeting of the year for negotiators who last met at the annual UN climate conference (COP20) in Lima, Peru in December. There they adopted a 38-page text which contains all the key elements for a new climate treaty.

Damian RyanSenior Policy Manager at The Climate Group explains: "The task in Geneva this week is to begin the process of eliminating duplication and narrowing down the number of options for the various elements in the Lima text. But while the talks are unlikely to see any major developments, they will provide a first indication of the likely road ahead in this crucial year for climate action."

Geneva’s opening session yesterday started positively, with parties agreeing to move into negotiating mode quickly without the usual formalities. The swift commencement reflects a call from the co-chairs of the process for a rapid start and no doubt recognition among negotiators that time is short and there is much to do, both this week and throughout the year.

The first parts of the draft – covering objectives, mitigation, finance and technologies – are being discussed initially. Reports suggest that while there is general agreement that the document has to be shorter and clearer there remains much work to do to narrow gaps in country positions.

The final draft text from Geneva will be picked up at the next scheduled meeting in Bonn, Germany in early June, where further streamlining and consolidation will occur. Two additional meetings have also been planned before the Paris conference.

In the intervening period, the first Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) from individual countries are due to be submitted by March 31. These will outline the specific actions countries will take to tackle climate change, as determined by their specific capabilities and priorities.

Collectively, INDCs will determine the overall emission reduction ambition of the deal in Paris, while the text will determine the institutional framework for how countries will collectively address climate change in the coming decades.

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By Denise Puca

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