Progress in Friday’s bridging text

Two new texts have been released this morning: a compilation text (within which the draft agreement is down from 26 to 23 pages ), and a bridging text where co-chairs have attempted to clarify some of the options which is further streamlines the agreement to 19 pages.

This is likely to be about the length of the final agreement. The US Climate Action Network noted in a press briefing that with nearly half of the negotiating time used up, the streamlining of options within the text is only about “25% done”.

This article will focus on changes in the bridging text. For context, see our analysis of the previous document (released Thursday morning).

Notable changes:

Preamble:

All key concepts from the previous draft (carbon pricing, education, land use, sustainable development, food security, human rights including gender, the empowerment of women, health and indigenous people, historical responsibility, intergenerational equity, the integrity of ecosystems, just transitions of workforces and so on) are mentioned both in the preamble. The references to special circumstances of SIDS, LDCs, African nations and Central American Isthmus which were added previously are still in.

Concepts excluded from operative text:

There have been reports from within the ongoing negotiations that countries that some Parties are pushing for the removal of human rights, gender equality, and the rights of indigenous peoples from the operative clauses. At this point, they are still in. However ‘just transition of the workforce’ and intergenerational equity have been removed from the operative text.

Purpose (Art 2):

Despite reports that the US is pushing for Art 2’s removal, the option for “no text” has been removed in this document. The long term goal is still to “hold world temperature below 1.5 °C or well below 2 °C”, despite reports of countries trying to block this.

Already it is clear that these documents are not a completely accurate yardstick of the negotiations, which at the time of posting are literally ongoing.

Mitigation (Art 3):

This article is mostly the same. Net zero is still out.

The ‘ratchet’ mechanism has been scaled back in this document. The previous draft included the option:

Each Party shall [[communicate its [successive] [new]] [update its] [NDMC*][INDC] by [year x] [2020] [2021] and every five years thereafter on a [synchronized][common] basis …

The current text still refers to the five year cycle, but removes the option for Parties to return to the table with their INDCs in 2020. If this is in the final text, it will significantly alter the post-COP21 trajectory by essentially locking in the current emission trajectory until 2030.

Loss and damage:

The option for no text has been removed (although an option to include it under the heading of adaptation). It appears likely that Loss and Damage will be in the final agreement, although without mention of compensation or liability.

The bridging text suggests anchoring the Warsaw Mechanism, which Parties already agreed to in 2013 in a COP decision, to the agreement. The Warsaw mechanism focuses on a process on how to address L&D and a coordination of efforts to manage displacement and relocation. This option still needs to be fleshed out, but progress is being made.

What hasn’t changed:

Other than general streamlining, not much of substance has obviously changed in other key sections such as adaptation, transparency and finance. It is likely that the finance gap will need to be resolved before these other areas can be further clarified.

See our analysis of the previous agreement for further context on how the text has evolved.

Overall:

By the time this is published, the negotiations likely will have moved forward. Many square brackets remain but arguably only a few issues need to be substantively resolved. Finance is appears the major hurdle.

Jack Barclay and Simon Hillier | image by UNclimatechange

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