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After One Week Of Talks, Paris Draft Remains Full Of Unresolved Issues

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Nitin Sethi, Business Standard

Solution to all difficult issues to be resolved by ministers in second week of negotiations

On Saturday, after four years of negotiations that began in 2011, negotiators from 196 countries finally stamped their approval on the penultimate draft of 48 pages for a Paris agreement which will now be taken up at the ministerial level for approving the final package and will set in place a new global regime to fight climate change starting 2020.

The penultimate draft came through earlier than expected on Saturday morning. But, that happened as countries decided to postpone finding solution to almost all of the difficult questions which had plagued the negotiations, with the hope of resolving them once ministers arrive at France’s capital over the weekend.

For a majority of the developing countries the one big and cross-cutting issue of operationalizing the principle of differentiation across all elements of the Paris climate change package remained unresolved. The arguments over the week had been bitter and it got reflected even as the meeting on Saturday drew to a close while accepting the penultimate draft.

Malaysia speaking on behalf of the Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) and South Africa speaking for the larger G-77 and China group, both reiterated that the final deal would necessarily have to see equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities deeply embedded in all its parts – mitigation, finance, adaptation, compliance, review, clean technology sharing and capacity building.

The LMDC group warned that developed countries could not ignore all the scientific and economic data available which pointed to increasing inequality between developed and developing countries and how many of the latter were structurally locked in to staying either at low or at middle income levels even in future years. They warned that the claim that the world had changed since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was first agreed to in 1992 was an attempt to shift the developed world’s existing obligations on to developing countries under the new agreement.

The warning shots from developing world during the process of approval of the draft text on Saturday were fired as a consequence of the volatile negotiating process through the first week of the Paris summit. The Africa Group of Nations had complained on Friday evening and the LMDC noted on Saturday morning the constantly changing rules of the game on Saturday. Both put on record the fact that the rules of negotiations had changed too often to the disadvantage of countries with lesser capacities than the rich world.

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