Hamish Laing: State of affairs

We are now into the last week of the climate talks and the clock is ticking fast. Although the nominal deadline for the talks is 6pm Friday this appears pretty unlikely at this stage and the goodwill and optimism shown by the parties doesn't exactly transfer into speedy progress. All parties still seem confident for an agreement, but how strong this agreement will be remains to be seen. 

Last week we saw the conclusion of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action(ADP), which has been the major work stream for the negotiations over the last four years of frustrating, tiring and painstaking work. They produced a basis in the form of the so called Draft Paris Outcome which will be negotiated on this week. However, most big issues such as finance, loss and damage and differentiation remain undecided.

As Observers we have been blocked out of the spin off groups (SOGs) focused on different parts of the text thus we have been scrambling to pick up scraps of information and rumors. This has been incredibly frustrating. The only chance we had to gauge how the negotiations were progressing was the ADP contact group which provided a daily stocktake of progress. However we weren't even allowed into the room for this and were forced into the overflow rooms to watch via video link, as in the picture below.   

The ministers from each country were introduced into the process on Monday with the commencement of the High Level Ministerials . This heralded another huge round of speeches from each  country essentially saying how great their country is and how we need to reach an agreement. This process will take two days, all the while ministers and negotiators are engaged in back door meetings and informal working groups aiming to find some sort of landing zone for an agreement, taking everyone's wishes into account. Once again this lack of transparency in the process is frustrating and we can only gain a sense of how the negotiations are progressing at the daily stocktake meeting now called 'Comité de Paris'. Fortunately we were allowed into this meeting and due to the inclusive and representative nature of these negotiations I was even given a go on the mic.....

So where to from here? Based on the timetable proposed by the President of COP on Saturday negotiations on the text should be finished by mid-day Wednesday. Considering it is now mid-day Tuesday and the text hasn't formally changed since Friday the general feeling is that this is very unlikely.  After this the legal teams from each country are to go through the text and clean it up ready to be submitted on Friday 6pm in time for each country to sign the document. We can only guess at what is being negotiated at the moment and hold our breath, anxious for a deal which will set the world on a path to a safe climate future.  


All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute


Posted on December 9, 2015 .