Climate Conference COP21: political negotiations are starting

After the strong statements made by the 150 Heads of States and Government meeting on 30 November, the first week has been devoted to technical negotiations. The aim of the negotiations was to present policy makers with a text containing as few options as possible. From Monday, environment ministers will take up the baton, working to resolve the outstanding issues in the negotiation agreement.

Some progress but much remains to be done

Some progress has been made during the first week of technical negotiations: at 30 pages instead of 50, the text is shorter than the initial text and, above all, some paths for achieving compromises have been sketched out. But much remains to be done and the process will succeed only if the parties show a genuine desire to make compromises.

Europe is committed to reaching an ambitious, credible and operational agreement

The European Union is committed to playing a facilitating role during the negotiations and is prepared to be flexible and have an open mind. It will address the concerns of developing countries and, in particular, those countries most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change which, like the EU, will not be satisfied with a watered-down agreement.

It is also crucial for the EU that the agreement incorporates a long-term objective that gives the world a clear signal about the direction to be taken. Because the initial pledges made by the 185 countries that have reported their contributions will not enable the rise in temperature to be held below 2°C, it is essential that the agreement provides for regular upward revision of the pledges. Lastly, the EU strongly urges that the agreement should be made legally binding and should provide for a robust system to monitor countries' commitments.

Agreement must not come at any cost

The success of the week of political negotiations which will start on Monday will largely depend on two issues: the question of differentiated responsibilities between countries in terms of their commitments; and the financing of climate change mitigation measures in developing countries.

The European Union acknowledges the principle of differentiation in respect of commitments based on varying national capacities and situations, and the historic responsibilities of developed countries. Nevertheless, although this principle of differentiation should be complied with, it considers it very important for the new agreement to be applicable to all. In terms of financing, the EU has already contributed significantly: in 2014, it pledged EUR 14.5 billion to climate financing and has already made far-reaching commitments for the future.

Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg, representing the European Union at COP21, stressed the need to accelerate the pace of the negotiations: 'there are still too many questions left unanswered, and we must increase the pressure. We are not prepared to sign just any agreement, and so we will fight for an ambitious agreement. This is our shared responsibility to the people who are already suffering from the consequences of climate change and to the younger generations as well as those still to come.'

  • Updated 05-12-2015