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Developing Nations Reject Paris Draft Agreement

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Nitin Sethi, Business Standard

Developing countries come together to oppose controversial draft of Paris deal as Africa joins hands with India, China and others of LMDC group.

A storm of anger rising from developed countries negotiators gathered strength at the Climate Change talks at Bonn on the weekend, ahead of the formal launch of the negotiations on Monday. The Africa Group joined hands with the Like-Minded Developing Countries, of which India and China are member, to oppose the draft for the Paris agreement in its current shape. The larger umbrella G77+China group of more than 100 developing countries too met on Sunday to coordinate positions on the controversial first draft of the Paris agreement.

The two blocks of countries, Africa Group and the Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) demanded that the two co-chairs leading the negotiations should first bring balance to the draft text of the agreement by letting developing countries re-insert their views. The two groups conveyed that further negotiations would not be possible without countries being first allowed to re-insert their proposals unopposed back in to the imbalanced draft agreement.

This is the last round of formal UN negotiations before 196 countries meet at Paris to hammer together a global climate change agreement. Responding to a problematic draft text for the agreement many developing countries have flown in days ahead to Bonn to coordinate.

The first draft of the Paris agreement prepared by the two co-chairs of the negotiations had found strong opposition from India and other developing countries in the LMDC group, including China. These developing countries had found that almost all the issues of interest to them at the climate talks had been dropped and others inimical to their interests given a greater priority. India had found several of its red-lines too breached by the draft agreement.

“The text contained in the informal note ADP.2015.8 (the draft Paris agreement) cannot be used as a basis for negotiation, as it is unbalanced, and does not reflect the African Group positions, and crosses the group’s redlines,” said Xolisa Ngwadla, lead negotiator for the Africa Group speaking to Business Standard from Bonn. “We intend to be constructive and help in the progress of the talks but this is not a text on the basis of which African Group can negotiate,” he added.

Sources in the LMDC group too confirmed that the two blocks of countries had met and found they were on the same page and extremely upset with the draft agreement being blind to positions of the developing countries. The two groups drew up common positions to take at the formal talks beginning Monday. On Sunday the two groups separately met with the co-chairs of the process (one is from the US and another from Algeria) and informed them that the talks could not move ahead until the draft text was first revised.

“We tasked the co-chairs to come up with a text which would be the basis for negotiations. That means presenting the views of all countries cohesively and in a balanced manner including areas of convergence and divergence. Instead what we find is a compromise text being presented to us which is not a compromise countries have agreed to,” said a key negotiator from LMDC countries.

The official said the LMDC too have conveyed that the imbalance in the draft agreement threatened the success of the Paris agreement. He said, “The G77 group of more than 100 countries had given text-based proposals on finance but these were not taken into account at all. Our views are completely taken off the table. We find the provisions (in the current Paris agreement draft) are vacuous. This has given rise to serious concerns in our mind about the success of Paris Agreement,”

Ngwadla explained further, “The open-ended drafting committee should only commence once agreement on its mandate has been clarified in the opening plenary, with a clear modality that there will be no negotiation of insertions by Parties to establish balance in the open ended drafting committee.”

In other words, African countries and the LMDC have both demanded that the first day of the Bonn talks should allow any country or group to bring back their proposals on the table that have been given a short shrift without objections from others. The process of negotiations to reduce differences and bring consensus can begin only then.

Both groups of countries have also said that there should be a stock-taking meeting at the end of each day. “Unlike the last time where the co-chairs continued to negotiate the way they wished, here we shall take stock. At the first-stock taking meeting we shall assess find that the representations of developing countries have been taken on board the draft text or not. Only then would negotiations begin,” said the negotiators, in what is being seen as a polite but serious warning to the co-chairs.

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