One of the most beautiful things I saw on my facebook feed last week were some angels at Republique, the scene of the attacks last month. Those same angels appeared at the entrance to the UN zone at the climate talks out at Le Bourget the other day as we walked into the centre. Today it was the Greenpeace polar bear, Aurora, roaring at everyone. But whatever is set up to amuse us on the way in, there’s no getting around it: we’re heading to the pointy end of the Paris agreement, and it’s no longer really about pictures. It’s all about words. The text.
I’ve been here a few times now: these last 48 hours at a climate talks where nobody gets any sleep, and everybody’s obsessed with the regular new rounds of the draft agreement.
We’ve been waiting all day: governments battled over words all night last night, and the French Environment Minister Fabius’s team started drafting a new version of the draft agreement early this morning.
This afternoon, instead of getting that anticipated draft text at 1pm, we have a six minute plenary and everyone continues milling about – all afternoon. Finally, just after 9pm, the meeting begins, everyone piles into the room, the President announced the text, the UNFCCC website nearly crashes, printers spit out paper, and people start running in all directions.
After 30 minutes, the NGO’s have a standup press conference in Hall 2, press releases fly into inboxes. And the country groups meet for a couple of hours to discuss what they think, after which they go back into closed-door negotiations.
Each fresh draft of the text has fewer words in brackets, possibly indicating more agreement. Carbon Brief has been counting them each time. We reached peak text sometime last week at 1718 (or 1719 – there was a rogue, lone one somewhere – nobody ever found it). Tonight we’re down to 50.
The new text of the Draft Paris Agreement contains some good things, and definitely some misses. What is in, is some relatively strong language on the 1.5 degree warming limit.
Governments would agree to:
“Hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C, recognizing that this would significantly reduce risks and impacts of climate change”
This seems to be pretty close to what our Pacific Island neighbours wanted – certainly not the sympathy vote that would have been a simple “recognition” of the 1.5 warming limit that was one of the options earlier.
Marshall Islands’ Foreign Minister Tony de Brum has just put out a statement:
“There is a clear recognition that the world must work towards limiting warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and that it would be much safer to do so. With this, I would be able to go home and tell my people that our chance for survival is not lost.”
The Guardian Liveblog has other early reactions here. They’ll have another liveblog up tomorrow. Worth following.
Many of my team are going to be up all night in the negotiating rooms. I somehow doubt we’ll have anything by tomorrow – if we did it’d be a record. I suspect we’ll be going through the night again, and into Saturday.
Me? I’m off to bed. Maybe I’ll wake to a miraculous deal… but I fear there will be trade-offs overnight. I just hope the smallest and most vulnerable can withstand the bullying from the bigger blocs, that the angels are on their side, and they manage to hold their own. It’s not just their future at stake here.