12/12/2015

Paris UN Climate Conference 2015: Exhaustion And Brinkmanship As Summit Stretches Into Overtime

Fairfax - Tom Arup

An historic global deal to limit and tackle climate change is a step closer after a final draft agreement has been completed at the United Nations conference in Paris.
After nearly a fortnight of negotiations, and several days in which exhausted country representatives including Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had thrashed out details through the day and night, French and UN officials have completed an edit to present to ministers Saturday night Australian time.
Climate activists carry a red banner during a demonstration at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. Hundreds of climate activists have stretched a block-long red banner through the Paris climate talks to symbolize "the red lines" that they don't want negotiators to cross in trying to reach an international accord to fight global warming. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)


"We have a text to present," an official in the office of Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, according to news agency Agence France-Presse.
The text was being translated into the six languages of the UN before being distributed, and then debated at a special session on Saturday - beyond the original Friday deadline for the talks.
That text will be released at 11.30am local time (9.30pm AEDT) according to Miguel Arias Canete, the European Union's climate commissioner:
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to reporters following a meeting with France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Photo: Mandel Ngan

Earlier, Australia had joined a loose collection of wealthy and developing nationsthat were pushing for a strengthened global deal to tackle climate change.
If successful, the climate deal would be the first to include action from all countries. Nearly 200 countries have been negotiating towards an agreement.
Slogans were projected on the Eiffel Tower as the climate conference in Paris pushed into overtime.

As is often the case in United Nations climate negotiations, the final hours have boiled down to high-stakes brinkmanship between competing groups, particularly the industrialised world and major emerging economies including China and India.
Ms Bishop, who has been at the second week of the talks, said Australia had received a formal invitation to join the so-called "high ambition coalition" from the European Union, and had accepted.
The talks were supposed to finish at 6pm Friday but missed the deadline.

The group also includes the US, Canada and dozens of African and small island states. The coalition's chairman, Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum, said: "We are delighted to learn of Australia's interest and look forward to hearing what more they may be able to do to join our coalition of high ambition here in Paris."
"Everyone is welcome to join. Bring your credentials with you," Mr de Brum said.
The coalition featured prominently on Friday. Ministers from member countries held a press conference to announce that Brazil, a strategically important country because of its size and status as a developing nation, had joined. Other countries named as new members included the Philippines, Switzerland and the Seychelles.
The slogan "DECARBONIZE" is projected on the Eiffel Tower as part of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Australia was not mentioned at the press conference, but Ms Bishop said: "I've talked to Tony de Brum, we've talked about it. We are part of this coalition.
"But it is not a negotiating coalition, it is just people signing up and saying 'we want to see an ambitious agreement'."
The coalition is seen as an attempt to push back against heavy hitting developing countries such as China, India and Saudi Arabia. Some negotiators accused those countries of launching a last minute, coordinated attack to try to reduce the scope of a deal.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her Marshall Islands counterpart Tony de Brum meet at the Paris climate talks. Photo: Andrew McLeish

Ms Bishop and other government ministers worked through the night until 6am, but little progress was made, and by the morning Mr Fabius was conceeding the talks would have to run into Saturday.
One negotiator said oil-rich Saudi Arabia was playing a destructive role and challenging many parts of an ambitious draft text released by the French organisers on Thursday.
China and India also challenged aspectsof the draft, including how, and how often, emissions targets would be reviewed.
Developed nations tried to harden the language on who should contribute to climate financing for poorer nations. A group of non-European industrialised countries called the umbrella group, which includes Australia, have been trying to expand the donor base to try include China, India and other advanced emerging countries.
Ms Bishop said: "We want to have an agreement that reflects the contemporary reality of the world today and beyond, and so we believe there should be room in the agreement text relating to financing that those countries who are able to contribute [do] contribute."
Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, South African ambassador and the chairwoman of a group of developing countries called the G-77 plus China, said financing was the key to the whole deal. She said the umbrella group was holding the talks hostage by not moving.
"If this should fail it won't be the fault of the French, it will be the fault of the umbrella group," she said.
Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar accused the developed world of not showing flexibility.
"It's about differentiation [between developed and developing world], equity, and climate justice," he said.
In Washington, US President Barrack Obama called his Chinese counterpart Xi Jiping to discuss the talks. The White House said both leaders gave a commitment that their negotiating teams in Paris would continue to work "closely together and with others to realise the vision of an ambitious climate agreement".
Speaking to reporters, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Lui Jianmin defended his country's position on key sticking points, such as industrialised nations' insistence that there be a more common approach to reporting and reviewing emissions targets.
Mr Lui said this was a view held widely among developing counties, not just China.
"Our capacity and national conditions means still we shall have some difficulties... so the process needs to be more about encouragement. We need to avoid any punitive or intrusive measures," he said.
Mr Liu taunted the "high ambition coalition", describing it as a performance, saying it had only a dozen members. Coalition organisers said over 100 countries had signed up.
Australia had initially been caught unaware by the emergence of the high ambition grouping, but was expressing support behind the scenes for its aims later in the week before signing up on Friday.
The decision to join follows Mr de Brum taking issue with a joke made by Ms Bishop about the impact of climate change on islands in his nation. But that appeared to have been dealt with at a side meeting in Paris during the week, when Ms Bishop and Mr de Brum shared a hug.

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