‘WE HAVE ENGAGED ON ISSUES WITH VERY DIVERGENT VIEWS’
At the end of first week, what are the key areas of concern for the G77+China group and areas you are happy about?
It is difficult to say what we feel good about because, for any negotiator, you look at the iteration of the text and automatically look for things that matter to you, which are missing.
Is there a long list for that?
Based on the feedback I have received from our coordinators, there are significant issues on the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs; targets under the Paris Agreement). The issue of differentiation —of great importance to G77 and China — is not reflected in any meaningful sense. Our stress is on article 4.4 of the Paris Agreement, which is very clear about what developed countries must do and what developing countries should be doing.
Logically, there will be different types of NDCs so you can’t have guidance (rules) that fits all. We aren’t happy with the manner, by which differentiation has almost been neglected.
We heard others from developed countries stressing upon the exact opposite. There are other issues but the central one is on NDCs.
Could you specify what the flexibility in transparency framework is all about?
Flexibility is intended to acknowledge realities that developed countries have been reporting at multiple levels, for a number of years, under previous obligations.
Under the Paris Agreement they transition from their current state of reporting to an enhanced transparency framework. Their transition is going to be rather smooth, but they are resisting even this enhanced part of the transparency framework. In some iteration and pronouncements on their part, we see some backsliding.
For us (developing countries), we acknowledge it is going to be an enhanced transparency framework but we have not been reporting the same type that they have. For us to meet the requirements of a transparency regime that we have, we will need multiple types of flexibilities based on capacity and on national circumstances.
What are the concerns on finance?
Finance is a cornerstone of the agreement because without adequate support it would be very difficult for us to meet the contributions we would like to deliver. Any contribution we make will be bound by the support we are confident to find. This brings in the issue of predictability of finance and confidence, which, takes us to the famous article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement.
On how G77+China has acted so far…
We have demonstrated by action that we are sparing no efforts under Egypt’s chairmanship, to reach out and take issues head on, talk frankly with our interlocutors from the developed world, and show the political will to reach an agreement. We are invested in the process as G77+China. We have been constantly engaging even on issues with very divergent views.
Please give an overall view of where things stand as your group sees them…
We have issues with the bigger picture. Paris was a package; a comprehensive unit like any agreement. In order for us to do this — it’s been almost three years of trying — we have had to dismantle it into its components and various articles. Then we have had to work on each one of them, which has become a siloed process. What are the consequences? One of them would be to have completion in the silo mode but you still have to be able to look at them and see all parts that could be brought together. This is the overall balance we look for.
Are you saying this balance does not exist at Katowice?
I am saying it’s difficult. When we use the balance in any context, it means comparing two things. But you continue to look them individually and not put them side by side as it is difficult for you to make a decision on whether the balance is there.
Have you seen reciprocation from developed countries?
On some occasions, we have managed to see very little goodwill come across. Nothing has materialised. Yet, we will continue because we have no choice. We understand as citizens of the world that stakes are too high. The NDCs as we see them now have put us on a dangerous trajectory.
The pressures are tremendous for social, health and economic reasons. It’s about our children. We must step up and start a regime that will be effective in fighting climate change, and help achieve the 2 degree target to take us to 1.5 degree celsius. We shall work for an agreement, but not just any agreement.
We repeatedly tell the developed countries that if we set up a regime too demanding on developing countries, then the best case scenario to happen will be that countries will implement and show the bare minimum amount of ambition. And, that is definitely not what we want. We want the widest strong contribution by everyone — small, midsized ones. We need everyone lifting their fair share of the weight.
Since US President Donald Trump said he might walk out of the Paris Agreement, how have you seen things progress? What has the US been up to at the talks?
It’s difficult to say. Of course we regret that, but the US is a sovereign state and takes its decisions keeping in mind their national interests. We, as diplomats, have to work with whatever situations we are confronted with. The US delegation has engaged on many issues and continued to participate. Their official position is that they shall continue to partake in negotiations and revisit the issue in light of the outcome, to determine if they will go ahead with the legal steps of withdrawing.
The US has a major responsibility for high emissions and obligations to extend support to developing countries. Therefore, we hope every country in the world continues to be part of the regime.
Some developing country negotiators suggest the EU is hiding behind US belligerence and is happy to bend backwards to keep the US in the Paris Agreement on whatever terms it wants. Would you agree?
I try to resist sweeping judgements of positions of countries or group of countries. I take things at face value.
What would your reading be then?
The EU, at least in my interaction with them, have been honest interlocutors. We see quite differently on many issues. But we continue to interact and see differences within them, in their positions as developed countries, and that is quite normal. At the end of the day, developed countries as a unit share a lot of positions and issues.
They would like to create a very stringent regime with high focus on mitigation. At least in the negotiating rooms, we do not see the comparable interest in issues of adaptation or even the urgency of understanding the issues of adaptation to developing countries.
Some countries are trying to help. The Adaptation Fund relies on generous contributions from developed countries. All this is appreciated, and will be unfair to deny. However, the needs of developing countries are so tremendous that they require more.
There is no donor and receipt in this regard. This is not aid; this is a collective effort. I do not want to get into historical responsibility but there are reasons for developed countries to provide financial support. Developing countries have not contributed to any of the situations we have been in, historically, and right now the share still remains tilted in terms of emissions on the side of developed countries. They are making some efforts have their internal issues.