Lima, 12 December (Indrajit Bose) — The second last day of the twentieth session of the Conference of Parties (COP20) on 11 December concluded with a new draft decision text prepared by the Co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) in Lima.
The ADP contact group meeting, the third in the day, concluded a little past 11 pm, with the Co-chairs handing out the draft decision and explaining to Parties that there would be no further negotiations that night.
Around 7 pm, COP President Manuel Pulgar Vidal assigned the task to Co-chairs Artur Runge-Metzger (European Union) and Kishan Kumarsingh (Trinidad and Tobago) at an informal stocktaking plenary and asked them to produce the text in the next two hours. This unfolded after an entire day of Parties trying to achieve consensus on the way ahead.
During the first contact group meeting of the ADP in the morning of 11 December, the Group of 77 and China asked of the Co-chairs for some time to come up with a proposal on the way ahead (see TWN Update 22: ADP: Contact group suspended, G77 and China to propose way forward).
When the group – comprising over 130 developing countries – presented their proposal on the next steps for the ADP to conclude negotiations in Lima, developed countries unanimously rejected the proposal.
Bolivia, for G77 and China explained that the group had split the discussions into pre-2020 (Workstream 1) and post-2020 (Workstream 2) tracks. Bolivia clarified that the Group was not proposing a new text and would address the text Parties had spoken to in the second week of negotiations, and called for negotiations to begin based on the text with several options. (The Co-chairs had produced a draft decision on 8 December and all Parties had negotiated line by line and proposed alternative paragraphs.) Bolivia said that the group had found common ground on a lot of the paragraphs and needed some more time to conclude deliberations on Workstream 1. It also proposed a ‘friends of the chair’ format to resume discussions.
As discussions progressed, most developed countries refused G77 and China more time to discuss Workstream 1 and said the world is waiting for a signal and that time is running out. “It is too late. We had two weeks. We spent two days making proposals. How long do we need to go paragraph by paragraph now? Do you really believe we can finish that tomorrow? We need the help of the Co-chairs to come up with a new concise text,” Japan said to the Co-chairs.
Nauru said it wants a break for 30 minutes since breaking into two groups, the G77 and China had not had a chance to come back together in a plenary and asked of the Co-chairs to convene in 30 minutes, but to no avail.
“We are still not clear how we think this process would lead us. We are already at 6 pm.
There isn’t any time left.” Marshall Islands asked the Co-chairs to facilitate discussion, to which Kumarsingh said, “The Co-chairs are willing to lead, but we are in a Party-driven process.”
Speaking for the Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), Malaysia said that they had all started on a wrong foot. “You would recall we were presented with a text which was unbalanced. Developing countries have been pleading for several years, providing conference room papers for our views to be incorporated so that we start with a balanced text,” it said. “We have made progress and what we have reflects the concerns of countries. You must appreciate we have a wide range of views and constituencies to consult. You ask us if we have made convergence. We ask you, do you have convergence among developed countries?” asked Malaysia.
[The LMDC had submitted a conference room paper (CRP) on 2 June 2014 on “Elements for a Draft Negotiating Text of the 2015 ADP Agreed Outcome of the UNFCCC” during the June ADP session. The Group also submitted a CRP on intended nationally determined contributions at the same session, and this was followed by a CRP on accelerating the implementation of enhanced pre-2020 climate action at the October ADP session.]
Discussions, however, had to be suspended because the informal stocktaking was scheduled at 6 pm.
In the middle of all this, media reported on the leak of a draft text doing virtual rounds of the Lima corridors and the news caught fire and kept the atmosphere charged, as G77 met to work on the way ahead in two groups, and observers waited in queues for the meetings to resume. Social media was abuzz with warnings that there should be no parachuting of texts from the sky. People on twitter even named it the “accidental text”. It drew this name because it was reported that the draft text was “accidentally” uploaded on to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) website and then taken off.
As news of the “accidental” text spread, delegates and observers expressed concern that having such a text at the last minute would be counterproductive to the trust Parties had built over the past week and go against a Party-driven process. Besides, several groups that analysed the text are reported to have said that it did not reflect what the developing countries wanted since it did not adequately cover the principle of differentiation – the cornerstone of the Convention. However, the text itself remained a hush-hush affair all through, with no official confirmation from the UNFCCC Secretariat about the “leak” of such a text.
As the day continued with no consensus on how to progress with “textual negotiations” in the words of Kumarsingh, the COP President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal convened an informal stocktaking session wherein he outlined the importance of arriving at a decision in Lima and encouraged Parties to strive to achieve consensus. “We are one day from the closure and we want to achieve what we have identified as the result of the conference. We want to give a clear and strong message and move the process forward,” said Pulgar-Vidal. He instructed the Co-chairs to produce a draft decision text, which the Co-chairs did a little after half past 10 in the night.
An initial reading of the text revealed that the text does not address differentiation between developed and developing countries and in its current form is a regression from the UNFCCC – a major bone of contention among Parties. Parties are to take it up for negotiation on 12 December.