Progress in Paris but next 24 to 36 hours crucial Opinion Article

Dec 10, 2015 - 2:00pm

This article first appeared in the Lowy Interpreter blog on 10 December, 2015.

Erwin Jackson                
Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute

Negotiations between countries have delivered a cleaner text that identifies more clearly the political choices to be made on the big issues. Negotiators have made good progress on capacity building, technology transfer and adaptation, and this demonstrates a real commitment from countries to deliver a balanced outcome as COP21 enters its final days.

The pledge from the US, delivered in an address by Secretary of State John Kerry, to double its grant-based public climate finance to around US$800 million per year should also help foster a cooperative spirit at the meeting. However some major questions are still to resolved. These include:

  • How to strengthen emissions reductions every five years?
  • How to distinguish between developed and developing countries in the agreement — if at all?
  • How to scale up financial support for the world’s poorest nations to participate in climate change solutions?

The draft agreement has the ingredients of an outcome that can boost global action (the national targets set out below are an example of this). Good will, creativity, ambition and compromise are now required to bring it all together. The next 24-36 hours are critical.

Options to update targets in the agreement
The draft text states that countries' efforts should represent a progression of effort beyond their previous commitments. There can be no backsliding.

In the draft agreement and accompanying draft decision are elements that would see countries reviewing and updating pollution reduction targets every five years (but beginning before 2020). These are summarised in the table below.

National targets would be anchored by an agreement to limit global warming to less than 1.5°C- 2°C, and countries are being invited to develop long-term emissions targets by 2020. The Australian government has said it will be reviewing is domestic policy settings in 2017-18.

Erwin Jackson

Erwin is Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute. With nearly 20 years practical experience in climate change policy and research, Erwin has developed and led many national and international programs aimed at reducing greenhouse pollution. This work has been undertaken in Australia, Europe, North and South America, the Pacific and Antarctica. He has represented non-governmental groups and advised government and business in national, regional and international fora, including being a non-governmental expert reviewer of the reports of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Erwin has written, researched and produced many publications on climate change and energy policy including a number of review papers in scientific journals such as the Medical Journal of Australia.
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