Paris climate talks: What it is likely to deliver?

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Philippine EnviroNews, Paris, France

The United Nations-led climate change summit in Paris started off with a promising start and many are optimistic that it will be a historic climate deal.

Last week, we’ve seen more than 140 world leaders across the world gathered in the French capital and kicked-off the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) delivering their their strong commitment for a universal climate deal in reducing carbon emissions.

It makes sense in putting the ‘leader’s event’ at the beginning then at the usual end of the talks as they create the opportunity to make progress and deliver the message of strong climate action.

But the success of the Paris accord will depend very much on the willingness and ambitions displayed by government leaders and negotiators up to the end of the conference.

 The summit could lead to:

  • a long-term 2050 goal that ensures a clear trajectory to a thriving global clean economy,
  • a mechanism to increase ambition for governments to a five-year cycle review of the national climate action plans starting in 2020
  • a mobilization of billions to unlock trillions, that is transparency in climate finance
  • a strong transparent system for actions to build confidence and trust among nations
  • a carbon pricing to drive innovation and change in the real economy
  • measures to ensure we protect the vulnerable and build resilient communities

In the last two weeks and final hours of the negotiations, we have witnessed a remarkable coming together of minds and visions. But the outcome of the final round of the Paris climate talks is still uncertain considering the sticky issues still left to be decided.

Sticky Issues:

 On ambition, governments have put on table the “well below 2 degrees Celsius global warming limit while still pursuing a 1.5 degrees Celsius warming.

 On differentiation, negotiators are wrangling over the wordings of the Convention’s preambular ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions,’

 On finance, the $100 billion Green Climate Fund per year by 2020 seems to now be established. The agreement, however, is not enough to shift the trillions.’

 On the national climate action plans or the so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), many of which are conditional on adequate international support, are not enough to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees

 On loss and damage, it must increase the share of public finance going to adaptation activities to help countries deal with loss and damages like sea level rise and drought.

 So there will be a Paris climate deal for sure. It may be legally binding but that doesn’t necessarily mean each country’s emissions target is legally binding.

 The outcome of the Paris climate talks is still to be written. More and more countries are now taking actions and even at the local level there has been the kind of popular pressure for leaders to act. Thanks to the rise of the climate justice movement all over the world who are also building up climate marches in Paris and in other parts of the world in the run up to the climate summit.

 So will the Paris deliver an ambitious, universal and just Paris climate deal? By the end of today, we should know the answer. It is now up to ministers to deliver. The world cannot wait anymore as it is time for real climate action.