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Delegates from 194 countries who gathered in Geneva  for a week long process of climate negotiations will return home with a negotiating text for the 2015 Climate Agreement which is set to reach in Paris end of this year, and to come to effect in 2020.  

With the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC highlighting the need for immediate actions to address climate change, the negotiators discussed ways to accelerate action on climate change before 2020. They started to outline ideas on a possible pre-2020 actions that will be decided in Paris. With floods and droughts to hurricanes, typhoons and heat waves, the impacts of climate change are felt they have been ever before. This in turn highlights the need all all over the world. Negotiators, ministers, and national leaders to actively engage with each other in the months ahead to get the strongest deal possible in Paris.

Progress Made

“I am extremely encouraged by the constructive spirit and the speed at which negotiators have worked during the past week,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“We now have a formal negotiating text, which contains the views and concerns of all countries. The Lima Draft has now been transformed into the negotiating text and enjoys the full ownership of all countries,” she added.

Speaking on the process of reaching this end in Geneva, Figueres said, “The text was constructed in full transparency. This means that although it has become longer, countries are now fully aware of each other’s positions.”

The Negotiating Text

The text that is to be used as the ground for negotiations for the 2015 Agreement covers the substantive content of the new agreement including mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and capacity-building. While there were divergences on certain matters, the countries worked together in order to identify the main choices

The text will be edited and translated into the UN’s official languages, after which the text will be communicated to the world’s capitals by the UNFCCC secretariat in the first quarter of 2015 which would respect the internationally-accepted timetable for reaching a possible treaty because it alerts capitals to the fact that a legal instrument could be adopted in Paris.

A Legally Binging Agreement in Paris?

The mere fact that the negotiating text is finalised does not ensure that there will be a legally binding outcome reached in Paris.

Speaking on this possibility, Ms Figueres said, “It does not, however, set this possibility in stone – it merely opens the door for this possibility. As for the legal nature of the agreement, this will only be clarified later in the year,” Ms. Figueres explained.

“Our view is that a legally binding protocol under the convention that is applicable to all Parties, and in line with keeping global temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, is the best way to achieve that objective. We certainly have our work cut out when we convene again in June, but we have made important progress here, and AOSIS is committed to working with all parties, groups, and the ADP co-chairs to transform the negotiating text into an ambitious agreement in Paris,” said Ambassador Ahmed Sareer, the Maldives’ Permanent Representative to the U.N. and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)

Next Steps

The negotiating text is not a narrowed down text, and has many options proposed down by country Parties. This requires that the negotiators to narrow down options and reach consensus on the content. Further work on the text will continue in Bonn in June, and two more formal sessions (with many other informal sessions being held) planned for later in the year ahead of the Paris climate negotiations.

In addition to the meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, there will also be ministerial-level meetings throughout the year that will include climate change on their agendas, among these being the Major Economies Forum; the Petersburg Climate Dialogue and the African Ministerial Conference of the Environment with the upcoming G7 and G20 meetings affording further political engagement on climate change and the Paris agreement.

Climate Change: Not a Stand-alone Issue

Observing climate change impacts across the globe point to the fact that addressing climate change cannot be a stand-alone action. It overlaps with many other aspects such as economy, human rights and development. In 2015 given the key actions that converge it is important that countries work on building links to elements of developmental agenda, and treat climate change as a key issue which would impact the country’s growth.

“We leave Geneva with a lengthy text to work on in the coming months, but it importantly reflects the views and enjoys support from all Parties. As representatives of some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, including total inundation from sea level rise, our primary motivation is to make sure the global community moves as quickly as possible to cut the emissions responsible for climate change, and provides the support necessary to help vulnerable communities build sustainable futures and adapt to climate impacts that can no longer be avoided,” said Ambassador Sareer.

The countries will convene in Bonn, in June where the next formal negotiations on the climate Agreement will be held.