A first step on the road to Paris -
Last week the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced that important progress had been won on the road to Paris, where, at the COP 21 climate conference later this year, the goal is to reach a binding global climate treaty.
Any hope of achieving such a pact rests in the hard work of participants in a series of conferences in the run-up to the main event this November 30 through December 11 (we won't be surprised if it drags into the wee hours of December 12, or longer).
At a UNFCC meeting in Geneva held February 8-13, officially called The eighth part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP2.8 for short), the major milestone of agreeing on the negotiating text to serve as the foundation of the Paris talk was reached.
“I’m delighted that the negotiating text from which the Paris agreement will be constructed has now been officially published. This will allow early consideration of the text on the part of governments,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.
As is typical at these conferences, the hours in Geneva were long and the process at times stultifying, but in the end the work was collaborative and participants rose to the gravity of the situation.
“I welcome the broad-based engagement of Heads of State and Ministers ranging from finance to health to energy. The new agreement will not only be of relevance to Ministers of environment, but will be of key relevance across all government ministries and departments committed to the triple intertwined agendas of 2015: namely climate action, the realization of a suite of Sustainable Development Goals and progressing on disaster risk reduction.”
The content of the agreement, which includes crucial issues like mitigation, adaptation, finance, capacity building, and transparency of action and support, will be "formally communicated" to all governments that are Party to the Convention once it is available in all six official languages of the United Nations.
At the next conference at UNFCC headquarters in Bonn this June 1-11, negotiators will continue work on the text agreed to in February. The goal in Bonn is to "identify elements within the negotiating text that are of a durable nature and therefore need to be enshrined in the agreement, and aspects that are more suitable to be contained in decisions at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris," stated a UNFCCC press release.
“The June session will be of crucial importance,” Ms. Figueres said. “I would like to call on all governments to empower their negotiators to come prepared to make choices in June and to converge on outcomes all Parties can accept.”
The Geneva conference last month was the first official meeting since the COP 20 conference in Lima last December. Two more formal conferences in preparation for COP 21 are scheduled for Bonn after the June meeting, one from August 31 to September 4 and a final meeting October 19-23.
The task ahead is momentous and the road ahead is strewn with obstacles. But progress so far on the road to Paris is reason for cautious optimism.
Featured image credit: Tommie Hansen, courtesy flickr