One week ago, the delegates, ambassadors and ministers of 194 countries were sitting all together in the Ceiba plenary in the Moon Palace. One week ago, they gave birth to two important agreements on climate change that, we hope, will give a new breath to the negotiations. There agreements were quickly qualified as “historical” but, a deeper analysis shows that this qualification (that I have used myself) was probably a bit disproportionate, or at least that it is too early to give such an importance to these two agreements on climate.
For many countries, the outcome of this conference had to be “balanced”, so many times, we heard in the conference centre the expression of “balanced package”. As far as I remember, I think that this expression became really “in” in June, in Bonn, when the G77 and (especially) China almost killed the text of the chair of AWG-LCA by saying that her text was totally imbalanced. The problem of the balance is that it is totally subjective, and there was – I thought – a big difference between the balanced package wanted by a developing and by a developed country.
The research for a balanced package was consequently the goal of the 16th conference of the parties. And it seems that the delegates succeed, the countries found an agreement, a balanced one; but they have forgotten one element of the balance: the science. Let’s have a look at what are the elements in the balance regarding the developed and developing countries positions.
1.5°C or 2°C?
The outcome of Cancun recognizes that the increase of the average global temperature has to be held below 2 degrees Celsius. It is not a success for the island states and NGO community that were fighting for 1.5 degrees Celsius, however, the parties accepted to review this objective of 2 degrees in the light of the 1.5 degrees Celsius target. This is not a new element; it is just the paragraph 12 of the Copenhagen Accord…
For the first time in the history of the climate negotiations, the parties agreed on mentioning the expression “historical responsibilities”. This is a really exceptional thing considering that during the conference, all the delegates of the European Union I was talking to told me that they will always refuse to add this in a climate agreement. They know that responsibilities imply possible reparation and could give a legal framework to the requests of the developing countries for adaptation or something else. However, it is necessary to lower the impact of this mention in the Cancun Agreement, indeed, this mention is just written in the part III A. concerning the mitigation commitments by the developed country parties. It is at the moment a bit difficult to understand the real impacts that this mention will have on the next negotiations, but it will be really interesting to observe.