PARIS — A legally-binding climate agreement has been reached in France after marathon negotiations took the Paris climate summit into a day of overtime on Saturday.
The agreement, which was to be adopted on Friday, represents several compromises, including on positions originally held by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). CARICOM delegations in Paris tell AMG that they are satisfied with that they have been able to enshrine in the text, not least a provision for compensation for loss and damage attributable to climate change, and a mandate to lower global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over current levels.
The text was not adopted with full support, however. With minutes of the 3:45pm start of the plenary meant for the text’s adoption, the Group of 77 – in which CARICOM and AOSIS fall – met to share views on the draft outcome agreement. AMG understands that south African countries used this opportunity to request that the text be reopened, on the basis that it only recognized special circumstances for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Less Developed Countries. The proposal was not entertained by the G-77 Chair.
Similarly, AMG understands that the United States delegation stalled adoption of the text by pushing for a word swap in Article 4.4 of the draft Paris Agreement, asking for the text to be reopened so that obligatory language on emissions-reduction could be softened from the word “shall” to “should”.
Article 4.4 of Draft Paris Agreement: Pre-amendment“Developed country Parties shall continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets. Developing country Parties should continue enhancing their mitigation efforts, and are encouraged to move over time towards economy-wide emission reduction or limitation targets in the light of different national circumstances.”
Article 4.4 of Draft Paris Agreement: Pre-amendment
The request, we are told, represents the US delegation’s key political position that emissions-reductions should be nationally determined from the bottom-up by the private sector, and not dictated by the US Government. The word was changed, without reopening the Agreement, after being deemed as an error by the drafting committee.
Notwithstanding the several compromises, CARICOM called the Agreement a resounding triumph of multilateralism. James Fletcher, the St. Lucian minister with responsibility for sustainable development, said that “perhaps for the first time in a long time, Caribbean and other SIDS felt that our concerns were being heard”.
Fletcher, who spoke on behalf of the CARICOM delegation, lauded the Agreement as a total package that would provide the legal framework for protecting the region’s ecosystem.
“I can now go back to St. Lucia and tell our young people that their future looks much better today than it did two weeks ago”, Fletcher said.