Day 3, Paris climate talks: Tough and uneven progress Opinion Article

Dec 03, 2015 - 8:55am

This article first appeared in Lowy Interpreter on 3 December, 2015.

Erwin Jackson                
Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute

The pace in Paris is picking up. Delegates are moving from meeting to meeting, negotiating on the elements of the agreement. Even big delegations are struggling to keep up.

We will not get a good sense of what will have been accomplished this week for a day or so but it is fair to say that progress is uneven. This is being driven by certain regressive countries in the Like Minded Developing Country group attempting to suck energy out of the process and weaken the effectiveness of a possible agreement. Saudi Arabia, a wealthy and diplomatically effective oil state, is the focus of much frustration.

Some areas outside the formal negotiations are moving forward, however.

The US has been proactively engaging with small island states on the issue of how to rebuild after severe and unavoidable loss and damage caused by climate change. Finding common ground on this issue would build trust between developed nations and the world’s most vulnerable countries.

Reaching agreement on how to provide financial support for the world’s poorest countries will be crucial to achieving more substantial progress in the coming week. To that end, developed country flexibility would be constructive on these issues:

  • ensuring there are regular opportunities to pledge new financial commitments after 2020
  • ensuring the current goal of US$100 billion of public and private finance by 2020 is the floor for future contributions
  • ensuring the majority of public financing is used to help countries adapt to increasing impacts of climate change

Flexibility in these areas could help unlock more constructive engagement from developing countries on regular updates of national emissions targets, greater transparency of the actions countries are taking through measuring, reporting and verification (MRV), and greater finance contributions from emerging economies in the future.

Finally, The Climate Institute has looked at Australia’s 2030 per capita emissions compared to other developed and G20 countries. Meeting the government’s 2030 target could see our per capita emissions fall to 16 tonnes - still much higher than other developed countries, and the highest of any G20 country, aside from Saudi Arabia.

*The LMDC negotiating consists of developing nations that represent nearly half of the world's poor. It includes Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia Sri Lanka and Venezuala.

Erwin Jackson

Erwin is Deputy CEO of The Climate Institute. With nearly 20 years practical experience in climate change policy and research, Erwin has developed and led many national and international programs aimed at reducing greenhouse pollution. This work has been undertaken in Australia, Europe, North and South America, the Pacific and Antarctica. He has represented non-governmental groups and advised government and business in national, regional and international fora, including being a non-governmental expert reviewer of the reports of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Erwin has written, researched and produced many publications on climate change and energy policy including a number of review papers in scientific journals such as the Medical Journal of Australia.
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