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UN Climate Talks On Brink Of Collapse As Developing Nations Reject Latest Draft Text

Nitin Sethi, Business Standard

The Lima climate change negotiations spiralled to the brink of collapse in the wee hours of Saturday morning (Peru time) and were extended by at least a day. A third iteration of the draft text for decisions to be taken in Lima, released at around 1 am on Saturday, promised to open the weekend to uglier battles – largely between developed and developing countries.

As countries took a break early Saturday morning to reconvene again in few hours, several delegations, including the large Africa group and the Least Developed countries group, complained that they had not even been consulted for the latest document. Many delegates rescheduled their flights to stay back on Sunday as well.

Earlier, on Friday morning, developing countries, including India, resoundingly and collectively rejected the second draft Lima decision text of the co-chairs (that had been released late on Thursday night after first getting leaked). The rejection had come with visible anger and frustration. The text had little to offer to developing countries.

It asked very little of the developed countries to provide finance, it broke down walls of differentiation between rich and poor nations, it ignored concerns that poor countries be compensated for loss and damage caused by inaction and it put mitigation at the heart of the 2015 global climate agreement. It went as far as asking developing countries to start providing finances as well under the new global regime starting 2020.

The debate over this second iteration of the text was exacerbated by anger over the delegates being denied entry in to the negotiating room citing lack of space.

The US the other developed countries on the other hand put forth their red-lines, such as refusing to budge on issues of finance and more onerous references to their obligations on adaptation, finance and technology. They also remained steadfast in blocking even a mention of the phrases ‘equity’and ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ in the text proposed as the Lima decision.

The meeting concluded with the Peruvian hosts promising transparency yet again. The Peruvian minister committed that the ministerial and other consultations going on in parallel were only to find solution and not to subvert the formal process.

In the early hours of Saturday the third (and latest) version of the decision text was floated. In a departure from convention, the draft was not put on the website of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at first. Hard copies of the third and latest draft were circulated at the meeting. Only half an hour was given to countries to react on Friday night. The developing countries reacted with increasing anger and frustration. They demanded more time for consultations and expressed their reservations about the process. Several complained that they had not been consulted.

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