COP21: Ministers in Paris as Climate Talks Enter Final Days

COP21: Ministers in Paris as Climate Talks Enter Final Days

  • 09 Dec 0

The Paris climate talks have entered the second phase amid a sense of optimism that a global deal could be agreed by Friday, despite slow progress and continued rows over financial issues. The high-level negotiations at Le Bourget are being attended by ministers who will thrash out some of the more contentious aspects. Their negotiations will focus on a 48-page draft document that was agreed by officials on Saturday. The text is widely-regarded too lengthy but more manageable than the hundreds of pages used at the 2009 Copenhagen summit which was the last attempt to deliver a binding international climate change deal.

Finance remains a key sticking point. India, China and the G77 accused the richer nations of trying to dodge the commitment to delivering $100bn per year by 2020 to assist poor countries to address the impact of climate change.

UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Amber Rudd, has been appointed to a key role for the week by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. She is one of fourteen facilitators and is leading on work relating to pre-2020 climate action alongside Gambia’s environment minister Pa Ousman Jarju.

The UK has however been branded a hypocrite by some non-government organisations for demanding action on climate change globally while cutting support for green measures in the UK. Friends of the Earth has stated that the government’s policies “fly the opposite way to the low carbon route” that the Paris Summit is pursuing.

Outside of these negotiations, businesses continue to have a strong presence at COP21 with a number of high profile events both in Le Bourget and central Paris. Bill Gates was in Paris to unveil the ‘Breakthrough Energy Coalition’ – a group of influential investors, including Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg, alongside the University of California, that have committed to invest capital in early-stage low carbon energy technology development. The Coalition says it will invest across a number of sectors, including energy generation and storage, transportation, industry, agriculture and energy efficiency. It has not set a figure on the amount it is prepared to invest.

At the end of the opening week, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, announced a finance industry-led climate change taskforce, to help financial markets understand climate change risk, which is to be headed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures will act to increase transparency around risks posed by climate change, delivering recommendations for voluntary disclosure principles.

Also announced by India’s Prime Minister was the International Solar Alliance (ISA), alongside the Terrawatt Initiative (TWI), which aims to foster the best investment conditions for energy companies and financiers for solar across 50 participating states. It calls for one terawatt of additional solar power capacity by 2030, representing an additional $1trillion of investment in solar. Similar to the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, TWI is a collection of corporations and financiers willing to help establish regulatory conditions for solar to flourish.

Alongside the main climate talks, the UN’s Caring for the Climate summit features representatives from businesses including Mars, Acciona, Siemens and L’Oreal, discussing issues such as carbon pricing and science-based target-setting, alongside US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi) also unveiled a set of green action plans developed by 153 companies and 70 partners, focusing on topics such as renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, buildings and forests. An analysis by PwC has shown that, if the ambitions are met, LCTPi could achieve 65% of the emissions reductions necessary to stay under 2°C, channel $5-10trillion of investment into low carbon sectors and create 20-45 million jobs worldwide.

The Summit is due to finish on Friday. With just two days left to reach a deal, the clock is ticking and there may need to be significant compromises on key issues if COP21 is to be a success.


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