COP21: Crunch issues still to be decided in Paris

Pope, UN secretary general call for urgent action and global solidarity in face of crisis

UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon delivers a speech   at the World Climate Change Conference: he said  that he was confident an ambitious agreement could be reached. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/AFP/Getty Images

UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon delivers a speech at the World Climate Change Conference: he said that he was confident an ambitious agreement could be reached. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/AFP/Getty Images

 

World leaders, including UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon and Pope Francis, have made emotive pleas to the almost 200 countries involved in the global climate summit to reach a historic solution in the final week of negotiations.

Government ministers begin high-level talks in Paris on Monday on the 48-page draft accord completed on Saturday evening at the COP21 summit.

Among those in Paris to participate in what are seen as difficult negotiations are US secretary of state John Kerry and Ireland’s Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly.

Minister for Communications and Energy Alex White will also attend the venue at Le Bourget on Monday for ‘Energy Day’.

Delivering his homily in the Vatican on Sunday, the pope said: “What kind of world do we want to pass on to those who come after us, to the children who are growing up?” He said every effort should be made in Paris to mitigate the impact of climate change, as well as tackling “poverty and [letting] human dignity flourish.”

Urgent plea

“I am urging member states to look beyond their national boundaries. Climate change does not respect national boundaries. It impacts all throughout the world and, therefore, we have to have a global vision, global solidarity.

“The sea level is rising. Global temperatures are warming. This year, 2015, is the warmest year in human history. Therefore, there is no time to lose. We need to take action now.”

The week-long technical talks culminated with the publication of the draft on Saturday night. There was general agreement of much greater progress than at a similar stage of the Copenhagen talks six years ago.

However, many central issues have not been resolved. There are still a few hundred brackets (representing contested text) in the document.

“The crunch issues are still to be decided. Ministers will be arriving on Monday and those crunch issues will come down to the wire,” said Dr Diarmuid Torney, an expert on climate change policy from DCU who is attending the summit.

He said these included the debate over what should be the maximum average increase in global temperatures: 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees Celsius.

“There is differentiation, which is how developed and richer countries should act compared to less developed countries. There is the question of transparency. That’s how countries report on their issues and whether or not other countries can trust the statistics.”

Dr Torney said future ambition and finance were other huge areas of contention. In particular there remains a massive shortfall in the annual €100 billion sought from richer countries towards funding mitigation in poorer counties.

Before his arrival Mr Kelly addressed criticisms of Ireland’s approach to climate change. He said the agriculture sector had reduced emissions considerably and that the €2 million committed to the Green Climate Fund was “only a start”.