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An Early Start Sunday For COP21, World Leaders Monday

The 12th part of the second session of the COP21 Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 2-12) convened a day early. Sunday evening, November 29, 2015, saw the first Paris session of the ADP, which is the body mainly responsible for forging a unanimous declaration of international will.

ADP Contact Group stocktaking in Bonn (October, iisd.ca)

ADP Contact Group stocktaking in Bonn (October, iisd.ca)

ADP’s procedural meeting took place on Sunday in order to allow the technical negotiations of COP21 to start right away today (Monday, November 30). These diplomatic sessions take place independently of the appearances by national heads of state. At Sunday’s opening plenary, negotiators agreed to the establishment of an open-ended contact group, to review the status of work, and to spin-off groups for time-bound and specific examination of the negotiating text.

The alphabet soup of the UN climate proceedings often confuses nonparticipants. Here’s an inclusive summary of the central official business at COP21 from Tim McDonnell at Mother Jones:

“At the heart of the summit are the core negotiations, which are off-limits to the public and journalists [and involve parsing] pages of text, word by word. The final document will actually be a jigsaw puzzle of two separate pieces. The most important part is the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). These are commitments made individually by each country about how they plan to reduce their carbon footprints…. Nearly every country on Earth has submitted an INDC, together covering over 95% of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

The INDCs come from 176 of the world’s 196 countries. In each INDC, a nation analyzes its own energy and environmental issues and promises within a roughly similar format. The approach to responsibilities for this COP differs from the UN’s original construct, which had viewed individual national contributions by imposing commitments from the top down. That tactic took years of effort and did not work. The INDCs have had far more success and commitment in general.

For each country’s INDC document and details, view the comprehensive CAIT Paris Contributions Map from the World Resources Institute and the official UN documents submitted for 90% of the world’s nations thus far, including all major emitters.

The core agreement will likely draw broad lines on which all participants can comfortably agree. It will indicate a number of directions:

  • How less and least developed countries can receive financial aid in their climate-driven efforts;
  • How much of the cost of climate measures emerging nations will shoulder along with continued development;
  • The contributions and guarantees of nations already developed and responsible for the world’s current human-caused carbon pollution;
  • The legal status of the agreement (binding, or not? concern with US Congress approval);
  • Mechanisms and a timetable for regularly evaluating progress [regular five-year cycles suggested]; and
  • Some form of universally acceptable goal for the decade after 2020 [long-term goal to achieve carbon neutrality?, phase out emissions by 2050? 2100?, keep fossil fuels underground?].

Historical and projected GHG emissions (UNEP)

Looking toward discussion of details and resolution during the 2015–2020 period, negotiators are likely to prepare a secondary agreement including these factors:

  • Level of acceptable warming — 2° Celsius, 1.5°, 2.7°, 4°, less or more;
  • Continued scientific measurement and analysis (see graph here of latest predictions and the UN’s full 2015 Emissions Gap Report);
  • More detail on building mitigation and adaptation capacities, increasing financing, and technology transfer between have and have-not nations;
  • Refinement of country pledges, aligning INDCs more precisely with measurable and updated climate effects, and further drives toward national transparency;
  • Acceleration of renewable energy use, especially solar and wind, and fast-tracking research in the area;
  • New commitments from cities, states, other subnational players, and regions;
  • Continued leadership, innovation, and finance from nongovernmental and charitable organizations;
  • Increased input and funding from the business sector;
  • Concordance and support of faith-based groups;
  • Pan-national citizen participation; and
  • A new sustainable development agenda.

National heads of state who address the conference today in 3-minute speeches include President Barack Obama (US), President Xi Jinping (China), Prime Minister Narendra Modi (India), President Jean-Claude Juncker (European Commission of the European Union), Chancellor Angela Merkel (Germany), Prime Minister David Cameron (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Japan), President Enrique Peña Nieto (Mexico), President Vladimir V. Putin (Russian Federation), President Dilma Vana Rousseff (Brazil), Prime Minister Justin P. J. Trudeau (Canada), President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma (South Africa), President Nicolás Maduro Moros (Venezuela), President Joseph Kabila Kabange (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Prime Minister Malcom Bligh Turnbull (Australia), Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Norway), Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga (Tuvalu), President Abdel Fattah El Sisi (Egypt), and President Christopher J. Loeak (Marshall Islands).

Deputy Crown Prince and Second Deputy Premier Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz will represent Saudi Arabia, and Secretary of the State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See (Vatican).

 
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Written By

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."

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