Bonjour from Paris! We’re excited to launch the EGP’s daily COP21 morning briefing.
It’s day number 1 at the conference site “Le Bourget” in Paris. Over 40,000 participants from across the world are expected to attend. The summit kicks-off with a Leader’s Event, which includes speeches by François Hollande, Ban Ki-Moon and tonnes of heads of states. Follow their speeches live from 10:00am (CET) here. Our briefings will offer you exclusive comments from Green politicians and NGO experts, on the status of the climate negotiations. For starters, Åsa Romson, Sweden’s Minister for the Environment and Deputy Prime Minister, told us that she enters COP21 with optimism, as 180 countries have already presented their contributions for a global agreement. However, Åsa Romson stresses that “it will be very important that the negotiations during the first week can successfully reduce the number of brackets and the number of outstanding issues.” Read the full interview with Åsa Romson here.
Bonjour from Paris!
Let the (real) work start! Today’s the first day with technical talks by committees and working groups at COP21. The negotiators have the big task of putting the words of their leaders into action. As expected, the heads of states gave brilliant speeches with very climate-friendly rhetoric yesterday. But it’s always worth having a reality check after listening to some of them. Putin for instance praised his country’s efforts in reducing emissions. However, reality shows that due to the collapse of CO2 intensive Soviet industries, Russia’s emission reduction targets actually mean a decrease compared to 1990, but an increase in recent years. See further analyses of the speeches here.
Today’s atmosphere at COP21 is certainly calmer than yesterday. The opening by the world leaders made it sometimes feel like a rock concert. While strolling through the corridors, between the pavilions of the national delegates, you could almost be run over by a group of Chinese, smartphones in hand! … Their President, Xi Jinping, was just around the corner, so they ran for a once in a lifetime selfie!
Christoph Bals, Policy Directer of Germanwatch, a leading German NGO following COP21, tells us that “there are some potential poker candidates, like Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. India is also a special case, and we will need an equilibrium which allows India to move into a constructive space.” He describes the role of NGOs like Germanwatch at COP21 as “creating constructive pressure outside of the conference.” Read the full interview with Christoph Bals here.
Negotiators at COP21 are working hard on the draft climate agreement.
The first version of the final draft is expected for Saturday. At the conference site in Le Bourget, the draft text is projected onto screens, and you can follow the actual work that’s being done in real-time. This indicates a good level of transparency, however, the key talks in the so-called “spin-off groups” are being held behind closed doors, because Japan insisted on it.
Based on the new draft, the ministers now have to make decisions on sensitive issues such as climate financing, emission targets and reviewing mechanisms.
Another hot question is whether the agreement will be binding or not. The EU wants a legally binding agreement. However, Obama made clear yesterday that the targets of the agreement should not be binding, but “the process, the procedures that ensure transparency and periodic reviews, that needs to be legally binding.” The reason why Obama doesn’t want binding targets is clear: he would need the support of Congress, and the Republicans would most probably deny him the support needed.
In order to reduce emissions, it is extremely important to end the fossil fuel era. May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org, explained to us what role the divestment movement could play in the COP21 agreement. “What we might see is a commitment to finance mechanisms that actually set a target for how much money has to move out of fossil fuels into the renewable energy economy” she said. “The UNFCC has actually endorsed divestment as a strategy.” Watch the full video interview with May Boeve here.
P.S. If you’re at COP21 today, make sure you don’t miss 350.org’s side event on “Momentum for Divestment“ at 1 pm.
While negotiators at COP21 still have to solve more than 50 controversial issues, NGOs are taking the opportunity to create momentum for their cause.
Yesterday, 350.org announced their great news: Over 500 institutions, representing more than $3.4 trillion worth of fossil fuel investments, have now made a commitment to divest. There is rapid development within the divestment movement, and the activists delivered this news by organising a PR stunt within the COP21 venue in Paris.
A lot of jargon and abbreviations can be heard at COP21. “AOSIS” for instance is an acronym for the “Alliance of Small Island States”, which have formed a negotiation group. A good overview of the different groups and their positions can be found here.
EGP Co-Chair Monica Frassoni is also at the conference site in Le Bourget. She says that “the most challenging issue is that of having binding emission targets.” Monica warns that “the European Union and other developed states should not give up on this issue already.” Watch the full video interview with Monica here.
PS: Are you in Paris? Make sure to visit EELV, our French member party, who has turned its office into a meeting point for Greens from around the world! More details here.
The big question here at COP21 is the following: are negotiators making progress on the most contested issues, or not?
The losses and damages that developing countries have sustained from hurricanes, floods, droughts and other climate disasters seems to be one such issue, and a compromise between rich and poor countries is currently underway. While developed countries like the U.S. are strictly avoiding an agreement that could hold them liable for losses and damages in poorer countries, the issue could be recognised in a separate section of the final agreement.
What about progress in other areas? Yesterday’s new draft text for the climate agreement still included 1,700 brackets, and only few changes have been made to the pre-Paris draft. One observer from WWF said: “they're still just re-arranging the deck chairs on the ship to get a better view of the iceberg.”
While the conference is taking place in the northern suburb of “Le Bourget”, many COP21 related events also take place across Paris every day. At a BBC World Service debate near the Eiffel Tower, the European Green Party’s Co-Chair, Monica Frassoni, yesterday discussed the role of business in tackling climate change, together with political and business leaders such as Felipe Calderón, the former President of Mexico, and Aaron Mair, the President of Sierra Club. While some of the participants praised nuclear as an alternative to fossil based energy, Monica underlined that nuclear is certainly not a Green, secure or cheap technology. While business leaders claimed that a binding COP21 agreement will only harm the flexibility of business, Monica stressed that regulation has been always the driver for innovation and will therefore be the shortcut to cleaner energy technology.
Much attention at COP21 is on the U.S., but the new Canadian leadership is also in the spotlight. Elizabeth May, Canada’s Green Party Leader and a Member of the Canadian Parliament, tells us that “after ten years of deliberate sabotage against climate action, Canada is back in the fight against climate change”. Regarding the role of the U.S. Congress and their potential “no” to a binding agreement, Elizabeth said that “we can have a binding treaty while accepting that the U.S. will not officially ratify, but recognise its existing legal obligations under the UNFCCC.” Read the full interview with Elizabeth May here.
The first promise of COP21 has been made: Today at noon, the ADP (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action) in charge of the draft agreement adopted the final draft and sent it off to the Presidency of the conference.
The text consists of a 21-page legally binding “agreement” and a 22-page non-binding “decision”. Ministers will discuss the draft as off Monday, but we can say that the first reactions to the draft are cautiously optimistic. WWF commented that all the effective instruments for CO2 emission reduction have survived in the text. However, one key sentence (as well as many others) is still in square brackets offering two options: “To hold the increase in the global average temperature [below 1.5 °C] [or] [well below 2 °C] above pre- industrial levels”. If you want to take a look at the draft yourself, click here.
Meanwhile, outside the actual negotiations, yesterday’s big-story was the news that the Financial Stability Board (an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system) set up a taskforce to consider climate risk within the finance sector. This does not hint to any concrete action yet, but it is still an important first step of a key actor within the crucial area of the global financial system.
According to Oras Tynkkynen, a newly elected Committee Member of the European Green Party, so far little progress has been made on the question of who will pay for the necessary climate mitigation and adaption measures. “The developing countries are quite rightly pointing out that rich countries have not fulfilled their promises yet, and have not delivered the financing that is needed”, Oras said. Watch the full interview with Oras here.
Following yesterday’s adoption of the draft text for a Paris Agreement, it feels like the calm before the storm at Le Bourget today.
Tomorrow, ministers will begin the bargaining. NGOs such as Greenpeace warn that the high number of unresolved questions might lead to many compromises, and therefore a “wishy-washy” agreement.
In the meantime, focus is on one of the major civil society events scheduled for this weekend. The Citizen Summit for Climate attracted over 15,000 visitors yesterday. Among them many “qui ne sont pas dans le milieu écolo” as French media reported.
In an op-ed for the European Green Party, Barbara Unmüßig and Ralf Fücks (Co-Chairs of the Heinrich Böll Foundation) point out that the draft of the Paris Agreement “gives only little assurance that the international community is ready to tackle the challenge.” Unmüßig and Fücks call on the leaders to solve the many outstanding issues and say that “in next week’s outcome, human rights, gender equality and climate justice need to be clearly incorporated at the core of the Paris agreement.” Read the full op-ed here.
COP21 will gain steam again with a so-called “High-Level Segment” on today’s agenda.
Of course, the Environment Ministers’ arrival will kick off with a long list of speeches, starting at around 13:00 Paris time. Speakers include representatives from the European Green Party’s member parties, such as Carole Dieschbourg, the Environment Minister of Luxembourg. You can follow the speeches through the UNFCCC’s official webcast.
Yesterday saw a break in the official talks, with only some informal meetings taking place. Many commentators used the opportunity for a mid-conference analysis. A common observation in the various commentaries was the fact that Copenhagen had a text of 300 pages at this stage, whereas in Paris today we have 43 pages. Something must therefore be working better. Nevertheless, the hot issues still need to be resolved this week.
The weekend’s focus was on the “Cities for Climate” initiative, which brings together 80 capitals to work together on local Green solutions. Janet Sanz, the Deputy Mayor of Barcelona belonging to our Catalonian member party - ICV - told us that Barcelona has built its climate plan together “with citizen organisations and social movements, to arrive at a 40% emission reduction.” She also stressed that whatever governments will decide at COP21, “cities have a voice and the power to change the situation themselves”. Watch the full interview with Janet here.
COP21’s President, Laurent Fabius, is not getting tired of reminding negotiators that a deal has to be reached by Friday.
In order to speed up the process of reaching a deal, he has set up a new working method that allows the most controversial issues to be resolved: Teams of facilitators are pairing together developed and developing countries, and are responsible for leading the central issues. For instance, Åsa Romson, Sweden’s Green Minister for Environment and Deputy Prime Minister mediates climate adaptation together with her Bolivian counterpart. The facilitators must present their conclusions on “how best to frame the emerging solutions” by tonight at 19:00, in the “Comité de Paris”, yet another of Fabius’ newly introduced groups, created to make the necessary progress on the draft agreement.
A great overview of what issues still have to be solved this week, and where the problems around these issues lie, can be found in a blog by Jennifer Morgan, the Global Director of the World Resources Institute’s Climate Programme.
Kennedy Graham, a Green Member of New Zealand’s Parliament (and a COP-veteran), believes that Fabius’ schedule is unrealistic, because “at these UN meetings it’s down to the wire on the last day”. Kennedy believes that every country is right now playing poker, and said that “we've got a kind of cognitive dissonance here: you can’t solve a problem of the global commons by traditional 19th/20th century diplomacy, of trade style, where you have 196 states' parties all claiming national sovereignty.” Watch the full interview with Kennedy Graham here.
A new draft of the COP21 agreement is expected at 13:00 today (you will find it here), after which, the bargaining will re-start. A final agreement should be reached by 17:00 on Friday, or at least, that’s what the French Presidency wants.
In the meantime, Green leaders met over breakfast this morning, in order to exchange their views and agree on common lines on how to deal with the new climate agreement. While it is clear for everyone that this will not turn out to be the agreement Greens were looking for, many Green leaders underlined that concrete legislative measures which do come to fruition must be implemented on a national level after Paris.
Åsa Romson, Sweden’s Environment Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, stressed that “we Greens have many more friends in climate policy than we did five years ago, and we will have even more in the next five years”.
Yannick Jadot, a Greens/EFA MEP from France (and the Head of the Green EU Delegation at COP21) told us that countries “are happy with the current methodology applied by the French Presidency, because it is very inclusive”.
Regarding the final outcome, he stressed that “Paris will not be a success, because the current commitments lead us to a three degree increase” of global warming. Nevertheless, we can look at the glass half full “if we agree to have a strong review process starting in 2017, with a five year review clause, with new commitments we may be under two degrees by the end of the century”. Watch the full interview with Yannick here.
Negotiators at COP21 worked through the night, as queues for coffee get longer and bags under people’s eyes get bigger.
The new draft still includes options for keeping global temperature rises below 2 °C or 1.5 °C, and also presents a formulation of both options.
The atmosphere during last night’s “Comité de Paris”, where governments commented on the new draft agreement, was however clearly less positive than before. Carole Dieschbourg, Luxembourg’s Green Environment Minister and the Head of the EU Delegation at COP21, said that red lines have already been crossed for the EU. With only 30 “official” hours to go, negotiations are underway without the prospect of any break in between. Laurent Fabius will present a new draft agreement this afternoon, and let’s hope that ambition will survive the day.
Christiane Brunner, a Green MP from Austria and a member of the Austrian Delegation in Paris, criticized the draft because “aviation and shipping seems to be out, and I wonder how we can meet the 2 °C or even 1.5 °C target if we don’t cover emissions from these areas.” On the question of how to actually reach climate mitigation Christiane says that: “Climate neutral might sound good, but there are bad things like nuclear behind it, so we go for the option of decarbonization”. Watch the full interview with Christiane here.
Following two postponements, the new draft climate agreement was released late yesterday night (you can find the text here).
With regards to the temperature goal, the new draft includes both “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C” and “pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C”. Many sides have welcomed this wording.
On the down side, a review of national climate plans (in five-year cycles) will only be obligatory as of 2023. Many other issues may still change. It is now clear that COP21 will not end today, as the final plenary meeting is postponed until tomorrow afternoon (open-end). A new draft is expected for today, but it would be naive to estimate a time for its release.
Bas Eickhout, an MEP from the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, and a member of the European Parliament’s Paris Delegation, told us that the “text won’t be a Green dream anymore, but with the given options, you can still go for the more ambitious one.” With regards to the role of the European Union, Bas highlights a problem of speed, as “we need to move quickly, yet the EU has to to call-up 28 capitals” in order to find a common position. Moreover, Bas believes that Greens “have to welcome the agreement, because what is very important is that now, for the first time, we have a climate deal which 195 countries have signed-up to.” Watch the full interview with Bas here.
Voilá, here it is, the final COP21 agreement text that was presented just minutes ago at Le Bourget in Paris.
Following non-stop negotiations throughout yesterday and last night, which included phone calls between Obama and Xi Jinping, the final text was presented this morning, including translations into six languages. Delegations will now get some time to scrutinise the text, after which the plenary will come together to discuss and finalise it. This is at least how Laurent Fabius (and probably many of the negotiators) want it to happen. We’ll be back later on with an assessment of the final agreement.
Today is also the day where civil society will have the last word. Several movements are meeting in Paris, taking to the pavements along the Avenue de la Grande Armée, from Place de l'Étoile and Porte Maillot. The organisers have advised to follow the red arrows along the avenue in order to get to the event. You can find all the important information here: http://d12.paris
Analysis of the COP21 climate agreement by the European Green Party Co-Chairs:
“The Paris agreement is adopted” - these final words from Laurent Fabius concluded two weeks of tough negotiations at COP21 in Paris. Below you can find an assessment of the climate deal by the Co-Chairs of the European Green Party, Reinhard Bütikofer and Monica Frassoni.
Reinhard Bütikofer said: “The outcome of the Climate Conference in Paris signals the end to a long phase of hesitation on climate policies and the beginning of the end of the fossil era. We have clarity about the direction now, but we will continue to have important struggles about the speed and inclusiveness with which the world must move forward against climate change”. “The results of the Paris conference do not guarantee that we will succeed in avoiding runaway climate change. From day one after the conference, we must start improving on its results. European Greens will redouble their efforts together with progressive forces from civil society, from science and from business. We will continue to support the fossil fuel divestment movement to fight those in the energy sector that want to drag out the fossil age as long as they could. The fight against climate change will not slow down, it must pick up. The fact that the Paris conference came up with better results than all the UN Climate Conferences before demonstrates that civic engagement can force powers to move beyond the status quo. That motivates us to push harder”.
Monica Frassoni added: "Words now need to be translated into concrete acts. With the current pledges the temperature on the planet will rise to 2.7 - 3 ° C over the pre-industrial average. The EU now has an obligation of consistency with the words agreed in Paris: it needs to end the fossil fuel era and stop drilling, while setting new rules and funding for renewables and energy efficiency. The 2030 Energy Strategy is too modest to ensure compliance with the 2° C threshold, not to mention the 1.5° C we must achieve!”