October 2015 - Sebastien Korwin. The tenth part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 2-10) began in Bonn Germany, on the 31st August 2015. With just 10 days of negotiations (two five-day ADP sessions) remaining before COP 21 in Paris in November, by which time Parties must adopt “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all parties,” the pressure is on.
At the closing of the previous meeting of the ADP (2-9) in June, Parties agreed that due to the slow progress made, an additional tool was needed for the preparations for ADP 2.10. Therefore, the Co-chairs, with the support of the secretariat and the Co-Facilitators, prepared a document, “guided by the views expressed by Parties” and “taking fully into account the discussions in the 75 meetings of the ADP negotiating groups as well as the facilitation groups.”1
The document was designed to represent a “fully streamlined, consolidated, clear and concise version of the Geneva Negotiating Text (GNT)” without omitting or deleting options or Party positions.The document, referred to as “the Co-chair’s tool” is structured into three parts. The first part includes paragraphs of the GNT that are “by their nature, obviously appropriate for inclusion in the Paris agreement.” The second part includes paragraphs of the GNT that are, “by their nature, obviously appropriate for inclusion in a draft COP decision.” The final part of the tool includes those paragraphs of the GNT that represent “issues clearly requiring further substantive negotiation among Parties to determine their placement.”
The objective of ADP 2-10, which brought together over 2,000 participants, representing governments, observer organisations and the media, was to consider this tool and to “engage with each other on the substance of all provisions” and discuss how best to adjust and go beyond the tool. The Co-chairs also noted in their preparatory scenario note2 that the positions of Parties as contained in the GNT fails to reflect the evolution of Parties’ thinking over the past several months since February and that ADP 2-10 would be focused on “producing a clearer understanding and articulation of the Paris package.”
The negotiations proceeded in a number of substantive groups set up to discuss the issues linked to each element of the Co-Chair’s tool (including mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage and general objective among others). Each working group included facilitators (appointed in June) who acted as relays between the working groups and the two Co-Chairs. In certain cases, there was a need to establish breakout groups to speed up the pace of discussions.
This growing number of informal meetings, while welcomed by many Parties, placed significant strain on the capacity of the smaller delegations to effectively contribute to, or indeed follow all the discussions. Despite, or possibly because of this method of work, many delegates expressed their displeasure at the slow pace of work during a plenary meeting and called for greater urgency.
However slow, the meeting did nevertheless make progress, with textual proposals being drafted in several sections, and greater clarity being achieved regarding the different Party positions and options in the adaptation, finance and capacity-building groups. Ultimately though, it was recognised that higher political guidance was needed from outside of the technical UNFCCC negotiations process to deal with highly sensitive issues such as levels of ambition, finance and differentiation.
ADP 2-10 was not entirely without outcome though, with a new mandate given to the Co-Chairs on the last day to produce a new non-paper/tool that would form the basis of negotiations for the ADP’s next session in October. The new text is to be “concise”, should “correct imbalances”, and include “crystallized, manageable options” as well as provide “a better articulation for all central issues between the core agreement and COP decisions,” No small task.
The non-paper will be considered on 19th October, when talks resume in Bonn, with only 5 days to go before Paris. The stakes could not be higher, and as Co-Chair Daniel Reifsnyder pointed out “COP 21 is an opportunity not to be missed”.