Thursday’s updated draft text – analysis

Published on: December 4, 2015

Filed Under: ADP, Analysis, COP 21, Draft Agreement, Featured

The ADP has produced a new draft text based on the last few days of negotiations. It is four pages shorter than the previous document, but contains over 100 more square brackets. The agreement part of the document is 26 pages long.

This article will discuss what has and has not changed. See our analysis of the previous draft to put these changes into context.


There is a notable addition to the preamble at pp4. The text now takes full account “full account” of the specific needs of LDCs and SID,  rather than just taking into account. This seems to reflect the strong and united front that vulnerable Parties have presented so far at COP21.

The general purpose of the agreement (Art 2bis) is largely the same but now clarifies that successive INDCs communications will be informed by the global stock take (which is covered in Art 10). The 1.5 or 2 degree benchmark is still undecided.

To hold the increase in the global average temperature [below 1.5 °C] [or] [well below 2 °C] above preindustrial levels by ensuring deep reductions in global greenhouse gas [net] emissions;

This is more ambitious than previous documents.

The bulk of the changes are in the mitigation section (Art 3), which is considerably clearer than previous drafts (see our analysis of the previous draft).

The collective long term mitigation goal has been changed from 3 options (all of which were a complex mess of square brackets and placeholders) to one, which is easier to follow. It includes now the following (all variously square bracketed):

  1. The goal peaking of GHGs as soon as possible (but not attached to date)
  2. Rapid reductions thereafter, of a certain % (although the amount) is not yet decided, by 2050
  3. Zero global GHG emissions by 2060 to 2080.
  4. Long term transformation into climate neutrality or decarbonisation.
  5. equitable distribution of a global carbon budget based on historical responsibilities and climate justice

There is no reference to renewable energy or fossil fuels.

Parties deciding between peaking, decline, endpoint, qualitative state or carbon budget will be a defining part of the final agreement.

Some less ambitious timelines and targets have been dropped, such as the 2100 target and reference to “net zero” emissions (ie the use marginal land use to balance emissions which would allow business models to continue as usual). A 2060 timeline for zero emissions is compatible with 1.5 degrees.

The collective long term goal also now recognizes principle of equity, which developing nations have been pushing for, as well as acknowledging the balance between mitigation and food security. Clause 1bis also considers different socio-economic contexts, all carbon sinks and reservoirs, and all economic sectors as relevant parts of the long term equation.

Overall, the long term goal is the area of the text that has progressed the most.

Looking now to individual mitigation efforts: they have streamlined from two options to one, based on the first. It is still heavily bracketed but is taking a clearer shape.

Each Party shall regularly prepare, communicate [and maintain] [successive] [NDMCs*][INDC] and [shall][should][other] [take appropriate domestic measures] [have in place][identify and] [pursue] [implement] [domestic laws, [nationally determined] policies or other measures] [designed to] [implement][achieve][carry out][that support the implementation of] its [NDMCs*][INDC]].

The mitigation contributions themselves, previously known as INDCs, may still take their final form as one of four options:

  1. NDMCs: Nationally Determined Mitigation Contributions/commitments
  2. NDMCCs: Nationally Determined Mitigation Component of the Contribution referred to in the General purpsoe of the agrement (art 2bis).
  3. MCNDC: Mitigation Component of the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution
  4. INDC: which can be in the form of co-benefits resulting from the Party’s adaptation contributions and economic diversification plan

This is more streamlined than before but still a lot of unnecessary jargon. Essentially, these different options reflect different structures, regarding whether mitigation will be the primary component of national contributions, or just one part.

Whatever shape the INDCs/NDMCs/etc take, they will be housed in Annexes A and B to the the agreement.

The ‘feature’s of INDCs/NDMCs has been streamlined from a very large list of options into a few. The first option is that all parties’ INDC/NDMCs should be quantified, science based and cover all emissions. The second sets the same requirements but only for developed countries. The other options put the decision off to a future Meeting of Parties, and there is still an option for no ‘features’ clause to be included at all.

The ‘differentiated’ aspects of the mitigation contributions have also been streamlined considerably. There are only two options on the table now.

  1. developed countries taking ‘quantified economy wide absolute emission reductions of all greenhouse gases’, and developing countries take ‘diversified enhanced mitigation actions.’ In other words, the developing countries will not have to submit strict targets (and their reporting requirements will be different).
  2. Or, all Parties should aim to take quantified economy wide absolute emission reductions over time, with developing countries taking the lead (ie a transition period)

This second option is is slightly stricter on developing countries. Many developing countries submitted INDCs have not contain emission reduction targets. With this option, they will be expected to eventually. With that in mind, larger emitter developing nations such as China and India have already submitted quantified reductions, so this technicality may not be too important.

Additionally, a new ‘flexibility’ clause has also been inserted, which allows LDCs and SIDs (and potentially all African states) to communicate their mitigation contributions at their discretion.

The ‘Progression’ clause combines what used to be two clauses (progression and amibiton). It the same concept as previous drafts, but worded slightly more ambitiously. Insead of contributions needing to be “progressively more ambitious over time”, they will now represent a progression beyond previous efforts reflecting “highest possible ambition” (although still depending on circumstance and support).

Regarding the review cycle, there is still disagreement. It remains to be seen whether the first cycle will be based on the current INDCs (ie immediate review post Paris), or later down the track.

What hasn’t changed?

Other than those clarifications, other details of the mitigation section generally remain the same, such as transparency requirements, accounting rules and rules surrounding joint action. There is also still and option for Parties to limit emissions from international aviation and marine bunker fuels, working through the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization.

Some articles are exactly the same as in the previous draft, such as Loss and Damage (Art 5) and Global Stocktake (Art 10). Most, such as Finance (Art 6), Technology Transfer (Art 7), Capacity Building (Art 8), and Technology Transfer (Art 9) have a few options removed or combined, streamlining them – slightly.

Art 3ter, the “Sustainable development mechanism”, which essentially continues the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon markets, remains the same.

Finance includes “collective quantified goals for the post 2020 period” which clearly represents developed countries desire for developed nations to contribute to the fund.

Adaptation (Art 4) still includes a global goal but is undecided about reporting and global stocktake.

Differentiation measures are also still unresolved.

Overall, the bulk of the text is substantively similar, and too many alternate options remain to judge whether such slight tweaks are significant.


Thursdays draft text contains a decent amount of technical streamlining in the mitigation section, but very little in other sections. The pace of change is concerning, with the deadline for the final draft on Saturday. For the Ministers to negotiate the political element of the agreement next week, they need a clear text to work with. The draft still has a long way to go before that.

Simon Hillier with thanks to Sienna Kelly | image by UNclimatechange




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