ADP kicks off with clear possibility of "tremendous progress" towards COP21 in Paris: Mark Kenber

20 October 2015

LONDON: The last round of the UN climate change negotiations kicked off yesterday in Bonn, Germany, with negotiators from all over the world set to agree on a working text that will be the base for the crucial 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris this December.

The negotiating text was first drafted in Lima last year, and grew to about 90 pages at the last climate negotiations in June. The parties then gave the co-chairs of this “ad-hoc” group the power to streamline the text to about 20 pages to become a ‘non-paper’, a document that is not a negotiating text, but a basis for discussion among parties.

“I have no doubt that the conversation in Bonn will take us forward,” says Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group. The text coming out from Bonn “may contains two basic elements: one is a draft Paris agreement, and the second is a COP decision. The Paris agreement is the broad framework that will include some of the financing reporting and so on, and the COP decision establishes the registry for the INDCs and some of the short term work over the next five years.”

In this process, it will be crucial that countries will make surgical, discreet changes where necessary – to avoid inflating the text, which would make it an unmanageable base for a concrete deal in Paris. The text is now around 30 pages, with working groups discussing it all this week in Bonn.

“We should be clear we should not expect the Paris agreement to be agreed in Bonn,” says Mark Kenber, “because many decisions need to be agreed and taken on by minister or heads of government who are not at Bonn at the moment. This text is about getting people comfortable with the options, leaving a maximum two or three options for each of the really political pieces of the text.

“If we end up at the end of this week with something between 20 and 30 pages to cover both decisions, with clear options and understanding of what they imply, then I think we made tremendous progress.”

Such progress can be benchmarked with what happened at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, where the text produced by the ad-hoc group was set aside after 10 days of intense discussions, producing a disappointing text from the COP president.

“We are in a much better position now than we were in Copenhagen, in terms of the text itself,” underlines Mark Kenber. “There will be a high-level pre-COP ministerial meeting with about 80 ministers invited by the French government, as well as the incoming G20 meeting. Some of these more tricky political issues will be discussed there, with the intention of narrowing down the options and understanding where the real sticky points are. Therefore, I think when we get to Paris we will be in a good position to complete the negotiations.”

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