Fears over Paris climate deal heighten as Petersburg dialogue begins

Petersburg Climate Dialogue in Berlin (PHOTO: Tajiel Urioh)
Petersburg Climate Dialogue in Berlin (PHOTO: Tajiel Urioh)
By Peter Labeja
While, crucial momentum for achieving ambitious and binding climate agreement in Paris in December is fast growing around the world, serious concerns over its success have emerged in Petersburg Climate Dialogue in Berlin, Germany.
The dialogue that began this morning raised concerns as to whether the international Paris agreement, widely expected to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius will be achieved without much glitches. Once sealed, the agreement will take effect in 2020 with hope that it will drastically cut down carbon emission in to the atmosphere.
France, the chair of the next Conference of Parties (COP21) is using the sixth Petersburg climate dialogue to prepare the grounds for the agreement.
Fabius Laurent, the French Foreign Minister for International development used the opening of the Petersburg Climate dialogue to mobilize enough support for consensus in the 21st UNFCCC Conference of Parties it will host in Paris later this year.
He said France urges “parties to respect the October 31st deadline for submitting their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) as agreed in Lima Conference of Parties (COP20) last December”.
Laurent said 40 countries have so far submitted their INDCs to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework convention on Climate Change and getting others to do the same will level the ground for reaching a binding agreement in Paris. Gabon is the only African country that has so far submitted its INDC alongside the EU, Canada and United States of America among others.
Laurent said adhering to deadline will enable the Secretariat craft a basis for discussing country contributions by developing a mechanism for comparison. “The Paris agreement has to be fair to developing countries. It has to provide means for adaptation to adverse impacts of climate change including finance”, he told the Press.
Ralph Bodle, the German Government Legal Adviser on UNFCCC Climate Change Negotiations and Policies says achieving equity is super tricky under the Paris agreement. To solve the puzzle, he says different parameters have been developed to reconcile the different notions of fairness in a way that is acceptable.
“Who knows what is good, fair or just? So, there are a couple of points that have emerged as criteria of fairness. Historical responsibility is one of them, economic capacity and vulnerability being another among others”.
He said the biggest challenge to achieving equity under the agreement lies in the different parameters that people use to determine fairness. To achieve progress and consensus in Paris, Bodle advises that compromises must be made in some areas by some parties.
Dr. Barbara Hendricks, the German Federal Minister for environment urged governments to take the Paris Climate Conference of parties as an opportunity to find climate friendly development path. “She said it is unclear whether the promises of countries in the submitted INDCs are sufficient to support the ambition of keeping temperature increase below the 2 degrees”.
“We need an agreement which goes beyond Paris because different countries will start implementation of outlined INDCs at different pace due to a number of factors such as capacity differences. But industrial countries must take the lead”, she emphasized.
According to Dr. Hendricks, the Paris agreement must set long term goals for adaptation to help vulnerable countries. “And adaptation should not only be about the 100 billion dollars to be mobilized every year. It should include new and ambitious targets”, she added.
Draft text and fairness questions
With few months to the Paris Conference of parties, several milestones have been achieved including the draft text of the Paris agreement. The draft text will provide a basis for discussion of the ambitious global agreement. 
Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign Minister says while the draft text is ready, a lot of work remains to clean and make it a working document. “To achieve this, the principle of the Paris agreement must conform to listening to other country needs and compromising on necessary areas. Science is warning us that climate disturbance is speeding up unfortunately. We have to work with compromises because it is not easy for 196 countries to agree together”, he said.
He said the chair has already reminded all member countries to stick to deadline for submission of their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for progress to be achieved. “We have to move forward and find solutions. We have to finalize the Paris text in order to reach the Paris Agreement. This is why the chair has in recent weeks reminded parties that are yet to honour their INDCs to do so”.
Earlier Ralph Bodle, the German Government Legal Adviser on Climate Change Negotiations and Policies says the Paris agreement provides a huge opportunity for developing countries after the collapse of negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009.
Bodle said the Paris draft text captures all range of positions critical for eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development goals in developing countries.
“One of the outcomes is that all parties do something. I think that is fair as long as it does not mean everyone has to do the same thing.  And in terms of poverty eradication and development, I do believe that a sensible climate change policy and taking climate change seriously is one major way of poverty eradication and sustainable development”, he said.
Bodle said contributing to the findings that Climate Change is real and that it is tied to economic development is critical in achieving sustainable development, something he says the Paris agreement must work to achieve.


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