COP21 BTDT: UN In Overtime Again This Year

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Yes, an enormous cheer was to rock the world today, celebrating the unanimity of human will in our struggle with atmospheric carbon and its toxic accompaniments.

Issues remaining Thursday (

Fabius and Hulot at breakfast (twitter)Maybe tomorrow.

Last night, COP21 President Laurent Fabius convened another overnight round of open-ended informal consultations (“Indaba of Solutions”) for parties to the convention to address the draft text and consult among themselves to resolve the outstanding issues overnight and arrive at a final version on Saturday. The move has bought 24 hours more, at least, for the negotiations: COP21 was scheduled to complete its agreement today.

If differences persist on any single issue at the grueling Indaba, heads of delegation of interested parties have been asked to seek solutions in a more focused setting and report back to the Indaba within 30-45 minutes. On the basis of overall progress achieved during these consultations, the President will present to the Comité de Paris his proposal for a final version of the text Saturday at 9am (to be confirmed). Meanwhile, legal and linguistic experts have started work today on near-decided articles 12, 13, 14, 16, 21, 23, 25, and 26 of the draft agreement.

BBC News presents an excellent recap of events around the core decision here. It includes a slider-linked visual of how the drafts have changed throughout the conference. Coral Davenport of The New York Times today offered an informed view of the significance of the final agreement as an external financial one:

“Experts said the ultimate measure of success of the agreement will be whether it sends a clear signal to global financial investors that they should move money away from fossil fuels and toward clean-energy sources such as wind and solar power.”

The conference has resolved other painful issues regarding the agreement over the past two trying weeks of negotiations. The final deal in the making will address most of the climate policies environmental and economic experts of various nations have tussled over. However, the draft still hangs on the strength and verifiability of how nations will assess and report carbon emission levels, as initially stated in their INDC pledges, to the international body. The future of renewable energy investments versus more of the status quo (e.g., coal) hangs on these assurances.

Davenport adds:

“Such a transition would fundamentally transform the energy system that has powered the global economy since the Industrial Revolution. Fossil fuels, including coal, oil and gas, now make up about 80% of the world’s energy mix. The combined stock value of the world’s coal, oil, and gas companies is about $5 trillion. By comparison, stocks related to renewable energy are valued at about $300 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research firm.”

As well as narrowing this huge disparity and pointing the direction for future investments, a positive decision would also accelerate a world path toward zero-carbon energy and help overcome today’s differences in social and economic development among nations. Win for the climate, win for sustainability, win for human rights. Let’s hope we can get there, and quickly.

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