The Paris climate summit is going into overtime over two related issues that remain unresolved – who will pay how much to combat global warming, and how will the international community differentiate between nations rich, poor and those in between.
The second draft of the Paris agreement showed delegates from nearly 200 countries and thousands of observers that these crunch issues would probably not be resolved in open debate. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who is in charge of the UN climate summit, announced that all of Friday would be spent in informal discussions – bilaterally or in small groups. He wants a third draft to be ready by Saturday morning and adopted the same afternoon.
Most veteran COP observers feel this is the only workable process now, but they do point out the risk of countries left out of the informal negotiations making their feelings known in the final plenary session and throwing a spanner in the works.
Before that, it was a time for hard negotiations behind closed doors. From the information leaking out to the corridors, it appeared that by Friday evening there were two major issues left unresolved – emerging economies would accept ‘dynamic differentiation’ only if rich nations agreed to have their pledge of raising US$100 billion per year by 2020 within the legally binding section of the agreement.
A related issue also remained unresolved – the US wanted the reference to “common but differentiated responsibilities” (CBDR) to combat climate change removed from the Paris agreement. The US wanted this replaced by dynamic differentiation, which would mean that developing countries whose economies crossed a certain point – such as China and India – would have similar responsibilities as industrialised countries when it came to controlling emissions of greenhouse gases that are warming the earth.
Led by China and supported by India, developing countries objected to the removal of this clause on CBDR. China’s Vice Foreign Minister and deputy head of delegation Liu Zhenmin said he wanted to see CBDR “clearly stipulated and reflected in all the pillars”. India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has described this as a “red line” he cannot cross.
On the other hand, US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly told the Chinese and the Indians delegates that without the removal of this clause the Paris agreement would be challenged on Capitol Hill. US President Barack Obama called his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, one day after he had a long phone conversation with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the same subject. Delegates and observers in Paris awaited a resolution.