Madrid climate talks in peril

by Felix von Geyer

United Nations climate negotiations restarted Saturday morning with a contentious stock taking plenary of parties’ reactions to the texts produced early Saturday morning.

Delegates varied in their assessments of what was acceptable and unacceptable to their negotiating positions.

Brazil expressed “deep discomfort,” in particular for the referencing of the land report in the text. “We are comfortable with the ongoing oceans report but not with further conversation on land,” said Brazil’s negotiator as he declared a “red line” on that issue.

Saudi Arabia responded to say that they would not accept ocean reports without land reports, stating that “we all have issues.”However, various delegations perceived the Saudi intervention as a way of. blocking the ambition of the COP25 to implement any meaningful action.

Land is a strategic issue to Brazil who find the positions of Saudi Arabia and the European Union “hypocritical,” Saudi Arabia diverting attention from their oil to land, according to one delegate speaking anonymously. Brazil resents being “victim to EU trade barriers” while they promote their subsidies. “The use of land is strategic to us,” came the explanation.

Otherwise ambition was under cored by many delegations across mitigation, adaptation and ambition. China stated the need for COP25 to be a conference off action. “We need to implement Paris,” concluded their negotiator.

Later South Africa’s Environment and Fisheries Minister, Barbara Creecy told journalists on behalf of the African Ministers, “we want to urge all parties not to abandon ambition in search for compromise.

Creecy stressed the need for ambition across three areas, ambition in Nationally Determined Commitments to reduce greenhouse (GHG) emissions; adaptation and associated action and ambitious implementation.

In the light of already increased flooding, droughts, desertification and storms, Creecy highlighted that African nations are spending up to nine percent of their gross domestic product on adaptation.

“We need more adaptation finance than just voluntary actions; we need predictability and adequacy,” concluded Creecy.

Walking the halls of the negotiating rooms revealed little tangible clue as to which issues were more c contentious in negotiations than others. “Everything,” said one delegate; “Financing,” particularly to adaptation was another major issue. “Loss and Damage,” was also contentious while the issue of carrying over carbon credits for countries such as Brazil, China and Australia could instead be placed into the NDCs under Article 6, undermining environmental integrity of an agreement, claimed another delegate.

The plenary hearings have been postponed twice and is currently scheduled for 22.00 hours Madrid time. During a UNFCCC press conference, a UN spokesman indicated there was no appetite to suspend the conference and have a second conference mid-year as happened in 2000.

Negotiators are now preparing to work through a second consecutive night.

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