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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Geneva: Governments agree negotiating text for Paris climate agreement

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the spirit of Lima transforms into spirit of Geneva en route to the December Climate Conference in Paris

A plenary in Geneva. Photo credit: newsroom.unfccc.int
A plenary in Geneva. Photo credit: newsroom.unfccc.int

A key milestone towards a new, universal agreement on climate change was reached in Geneva, Switzerland last week following seven days of negotiations by over 190 nations.

Nations concluded the Geneva Climate Change Talks by successfully preparing the negotiating text for the 2015 agreement. The agreement is set to be reached in Paris at the end of 2015 and will come into effect in 2020.

Delegates from 194 countries including Nigeria convened in Geneva to continue work following the Lima Climate Change Conference held in Peru last year, which had produced elements for the negotiating text – known as the Lima Call for Climate Action.

“I am extremely encouraged by the constructive spirit and the speed at which negotiators have worked during the past week,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.

“We now have a formal negotiating text, which contains the views and concerns of all countries. The Lima Draft has now been transformed into the negotiating text and enjoys the full ownership of all countries,” she added.

The negotiating text covers the substantive content of the new agreement including mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and capacity-building. Countries worked hard to identify the main choices, put their views forward and add more sharpened options to the text.

“The text was constructed in full transparency. This means that although it has become longer, countries are now fully aware of each other’s positions,” Ms. Figueres said.

The negotiating text is available on the UNFCCC’s website (see http://unfccc.int/2860.php) and will be edited and translated into the UN’s official languages. After this, the text will be communicated to the world’s capitals by the UNFCCC secretariat in the first quarter of 2015.

“This fulfills the internationally-accepted timetable for reaching a possible treaty because it alerts capitals to the fact that a legal instrument could be adopted in Paris. It does not, however, set this possibility in stone – it merely opens the door for this possibility. As for the legal nature of the agreement, this will only be clarified later in the year,” Ms. Figueres explained.

In parallel to the negotiating text being communicated to the world’s capitals, its successful construction kick-starts a year of intense negotiations towards the new agreement.

The next step is for negotiators to narrow down options and reach consensus on the content. Formal work and negotiations on the text will continue at the Climate Change Conference in Bonn in June with two further formal session planned for later in the year including in October.

Additionally, ministerial-level meetings throughout the year will include climate change on their agendas and contribute to convergence on the key political choices.

These include the Major Economies Forum; the Petersburg Climate Dialogue and the African Ministerial Conference of the Environment with the upcoming G7 and G20 meetings affording further political engagement on climate change and the Paris agreement.

“These opportunities will help to ensure that countries have opportunities to work with each other at several political levels–what is needed now is vertical integration so that the views of heads of state, through ministers and to negotiators reflects a seamless and consistent view of ambition, common ground and ultimately success in December,” Ms. Figueres said.

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