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Lima climate talks on brink of collapse, extended by 24 hours

It was in the making. The Lima climate change negotiations spiralled to brink of collapse in the wee hours of Saturday morning (Peru time) and were extended by at least a day. A third iteration of the draft text for decisions to be taken in Lima,  released at around 1 am on Saturday, promised to open the weekend to uglier battles – largely between developed and developing countries.

As countries took a break on early Saturday morning to reconvene again in few hours, several delegations, including the large Africa group and the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group, complained that they had not even been consulted for the latest document. Many delegates rescheduled their flights to stay back on Sunday as well.

Earlier, on Friday morning, developing countries, including India, had resoundingly and collectively rejected the second draft Lima decision text of the co-chairs (that had been released late on Thursday night after first getting leaked). The rejection had come with visible anger and frustration. The text had little to offer to developing countries.

It had almost zero ask of the developed countries to provide finance, it broke down walls of differentiation between rich and poor nations, it ignored concerns that poor countries be compensated for loss and damage  caused by inaction and it put mitigation at the heart of the 2015 global climate agreement. To rub salt in to their wounds, it went as far as to ask developing countries to start providing finances as well under the new global regime starting 2020.

The debate over this second iteration of the decision text was even marred by anger over the delegates being denied entry in to the negotiating room citing lack of space.

The US the other developed countries on the other hand put forth their red-lines refusing to budge on issues of finance and more onerous references to their obligations on adaptation, finance and technology. They also remained steadfast in blocking even a mention of the phrases ‘equity’and ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ in the text proposed as the Lima decision.

The meeting folded with the Peruvian hosts promising transparency yet again. The Peruvian minister committed that the ministerial and other consultations going on in parallel were only to find solution and not to subvert the formal process.

In the early hours of Saturday the third (and latest) version of the decision text was floated. In a departure from convention, the draft was not put on the website of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at first. Hard copies of the third and latest draft were circulated at the meeting. Only half an hour was given to countries to react on Friday night. The developing countries reacted with increasing anger and frustration. They demanded more time for consultations and expressed their reservations about the process. Several complained that they had not been consulted.

The support and applause from select developed country delegates for the co-chairs and Peruvian head’s efforts did not find support from the developing country delegates.

As the meeting adjourned in the wee hours of Saturday the countries began reviewing the latest draft in huddles and small groups. There was palpable anger in some groups over being ignored during consultations. Several of them voiced their disappointment given the first chance.

They were invited to come back at 10 am on Saturday (Lima time). While the new draft had been pruned down yet more the key concerns of developing countries remained locked in to the draft agreement. Meetings of country groups stretched through a sleepless Saturday morning as delegations re-strategised. At the time of filing of this report, at around 8 am in Lima, closed door assessments and strategies were still on for many developing country groups.

Key issues ignored

Some of the key Indian non-negotiable issues overrun in the latest draft agreement released on Saturday morning in Lima.

1. That the 2015 agreement and the contributions of countries under it should not be mitigation-centric

2. The 2015 agreement should be under the existing provisions of the UN climate convention

3. The principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and equity should be at least indirectly reflected in the decisions

4. Mitigation actions of developing countries should be linked to obligations of rich countries to provide finance and technology

5. Emissions from agriculture should not be covered in the global agreement (draft leaves the possibility open)

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