UN Climate Talks On Brink Of Collapse

  • Date: 13/12/14
  • Amitabh Sinha, Financial Express

The climate talks at Lima were on the brink of collapse on Saturday after two attempts to push through watered-down proposals were rejected by the developing countries, forcing the head of negotiations to summon the delegates for an extra day of work.

The two-week long negotiations were supposed to have ended on Friday evening with a decision on the kind of climate actions that countries could take in order to claim them as their ‘contribution’ to the global fight against climate change. These ‘contributions’, the magnitude of which was to be determined by the country itself—and hence called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or the INDCs—are to become the backbone of a new international legal architecture on climate change that is supposed to be finalised at next year’s climate talks in Paris.

In Lima, the countries were also to suggest the other features of this international legal architecture, so that they had a one-year time period to negotiate on these and come to an agreement during the Paris conference. The architecture, if agreed in Paris, would come into effect in 2020.

But deep divisions in the positions of the developed and developing countries blocked any progress on Friday and, by evening, countries had abandoned the formal processes to huddle in small informal groups and bilateral meetings in a desperate bid to forge an agreement. The talks went into extra-time till the early hours of Saturday morning. But a new draft decision text, introduced at 2.30 in the morning, widened the rift further and gave rise to much distrust as a number of countries accused the head of negotiations of attempting to push unacceptable proposals down their neck as a fait accompli.

As country after country got up to say they had not been consulted in preparing the draft text and protested against the half-hour time given to them to study the text and make amendments, the head of negotiations was left with no option but to close the proceedings for the day and ask delegates to reconvene on Saturday morning.

Venezuela’s representative said the way countries were being asked to approve the text at the last minute, he was reminded of Copenhagen.

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