Changes and a loss of ambition in the COP21 draft

This draft is the outcome of summarising the previous 83 pp. document in 20 pp. The new text scales back the ambitions of the original.

The first complete draft (as defined by the UN) of the agreement that may be adopted at the forthcoming Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) was released on 5 October. This draft is the outcome of summarising the previous 83-page document in 20 pages following a request by the member states of the UN to the co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP), the body entrusted with negotiating and drawing up the agreement.

Essentially, the new text scales back the ambitions of the original. Below we detail what we consider to be the most significant changes: 

The new text makes no mention of the “zero-emissions” goal. However, it does retain the concept of “zero net greenhouse gas emissions”. These two concepts look similar, but reducing emissions to zero is a greater commitment than achieving a zero net balance of emissions.¹

 The commitments to reduce emissions received to date from individual countries (INDCs) are insufficient to achieve the goal of limiting the temperature rise to 2ºC. The previous draft envisaged "ex-ante" review of the INDCs. This has been replaced with a "global stocktake", i.e. instead of an upfront review of national contributions, a global examination is proposed.

Changes In The COP21 Draft

References in the previous drafts to the need for "global sectoral emission reduction targets" for transport and aviation have been removed.

All references to "carbon markets" and anything related to carbon pricing have been removed.²

Finance. Previous drafts acknowledged the importance of increasing the amount of finance, and even mentioned an increase to "USD 200 billion" by 2030. That figure has been replaced by "USD 100 billion" in square brackets, which means it is open to negotiation.

On the positive side, the new wording urges parties to "regularly communicate" public spending on climate matters from 2020 onwards.

In short, the ambition of the new text is diminished, which jeopardizes the final goal of limiting the mean global temperature rise to 2ºC. The forthcoming negotiating session, in Bonn from 19 to 23 October, will be decisive in laying the foundations for the future COP21 agreement in Paris.

Additional comment: ¹ Regarding to emissions’ reduction, the draft considers a "X per cent reduction in global greenhouse gas emission." ² Although it is not in the draft agreement, in the draft decision to approve there are provisions that could encourage the use of market mechanism (carbon pricing) to achieve the objectives of the INDCs, which also suggests that they built from the Clean Development Mechanism. However, it arises as an option without deciding.

Source: UNFCCC, Draft AgreementCarbon Brief