International News

COP21 Delegates Reach Final Climate Change Draft Agreement

By Abby Shamray

This week, climate change negotiators began work on a 50-page document rife with bracketed, disputed text. French President Francois Hollande set the deadline for noon on December 6 to have a simplified and bare text that would be ready for the foreign ministers who are set to arrive over the weekend, according to the New York Times. By Friday morning, the draft was down to 46 pages. On Saturday, the document stood at 21 pages. As the bulky text becomes more streamlined, the more contested areas become clearer.

India and other developing countries want the United States and the developed world to be legally bound to spend more money on clean technology in the developing world. The U.S. wants outside oversight of the other countries’ emissions reductions.

U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern is quoted in the Guardian stating, “When you think we have 184 targets put forward, the transparency regime is the thing that will allow everyone to have trust that others are acting.”

Brazil, China, India, and other developing nations worry that aggressive monitoring will violate their sovereignty. These nations said that the idea of five-year reviews of each countries’ target oversteps bounds.

India and Saudi Arabia refused even a mention within the document of the latest climate science that says the world should aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, rather than the 2 degrees that has been the standard for the conference, according to the Guardian.

Observers worry that negotiators may try to take out the more difficult parts of the text in order to facilitate a quick and easy deal. Coral Davenport of the New York Times reports that good will between parties remained high despite the many areas of contention. The Guardian reports that the final deal is “likely to be a trade-off between the rich countries’ demands for monitoring and oversight of all countries’ efforts and the developing world’s need for financing.”

After the Saturday deadline passed, the issues that negotiators struggled with remain for ministers to work through. A delegate speaking for Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Malaysia, and some other countries stated that the principle of “common but differentiated” responsibilities would have to remain in the final document, indicating tensions between the developed and developing countries, according to Deutsche Welle.

Nonetheless, compared to COP15, observers see the talks positively thus far. Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace said, “At this point in Copenhagen, we were dealing with a 300-page text and a pervasive sense of despair. In Paris, we are down to a slim 21 pages and the atmosphere remains constructive.”

Outside of the talks themselves, the world has been abuzz. The U.S. House of Representatives passed two resolutions that aimed to block President Barack Obama’s carbon dioxide limits for power plants on Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. The carbon dioxide limits were a key part of Obama’s goals for the climate change summit.

Representative Scott Peters (D-CA) said, “At a time when world leaders are coming together in Paris to reach a historic accord to slow climate change, Congress should be leading the way to support them, not undermine them.”

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