Amended climate change deal circulated ahead of ministers’ arrival

Shortened document and ‘bridging text’ circulated to delegates

Two new draft documents on a possible climate change accord were published in Paris yesterday as negotiators reported tangible but slow progress in the search for a historic response to global warming.

It came as ministers from almost 200 countries were set to arrive for high-level talks in the second week of COP21, the UN climate change conference. Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and Minister for Communications and Energy Alex White will arrive at Le Bourget this weekend.

Ahead of the visit, there were mixed views on how the talks had been progressing. Some environmental groups and representatives of poorer countries expressed frustration at the absence of a breakthrough on key issues.

Balancing act

However, UN climate change head Christiana Figueres said talks remained on track. She told a media conference that no single issue had been finalised or cleared during the technical discussions involving officials. It was important to understand that no single issue could be advanced without others and that the document was “very much a balancing act”, she said.


A new, pared-down draft of the possible agreement was published yesterday morning.

The document has been shortened to 38 pages, from a 50-page draft. A second document, known as a “bridging text” was also published. This contained suggestions by facilitators aimed at narrowing options and to help clean up the texts ahead of next week’s high-level discussions.

The disputed issues include setting a legally binding limit for the maximum increase in temperature; financing by richer countries of infrastructure needed by poorer countries; loss and damage issues; transparency of what measures are actually being taken; food security and climate justice; as well as discussions around more ambitious targets for the future.

"We are just about halfway done in time and about 25 per cent done with our work," said Lou Leonard of the World Wildlife Fund. "There is a need to speed up progress."

‘Fairly brutal’

Earlier, a member of umbrella group

Climate Action Network

said the atmosphere at COP21 was getting “fairly brutal” as differences were exposed.

"Realities are setting in and it is getting very political. At the adaptation session there was a bust-up. Rich countries are putting forward no text options and adopting a maximalist position," said Kelly Dent of Oxfam.

Sven Harmeling of Care said Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia had blocked any substantive recommendations coming from a review group which was to give the best scientific recommendations to ministers.

The conclusion, he said, was that limiting the average increase in global temperature to 2 degrees above preindustrial levels was not sufficient.

“That is an outer defence line that we need to stay well below,” he said.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times