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In Paris, All Eyes Turn to the Climate Negotiators

And they’re already behind schedule.

Miguel Medina / Getty

The Paris talks are falling behind schedule already, and it’s only day three. Negotiators have a lot to do in very little time: They need to cut down a text of over 50 pages and resolve every minor and major word choice by December 11. And they face their first major deadline on Saturday, when the French government, as the host of the talks, expects to receive a streamlined text. Will they make it in time? According to Carbon Pulse, negotiators are already meeting until 2 a.m., and, at the current pace, they will need to resolve a bracket every 90 seconds for the entire week to stay on track. From there, higher-level negotiators will take this text to resolve the still-bigger issues.

Good thing they stocked provisions:

Here’s our progress report on COP21. Blue bars indicate progress toward the goals, compared to yesterday, red bars indicate backward momentum, and gray bars indicate no change:

Progress Report   December 2, 2015

Commit to cut carbon emissions significantly by 2030.

China announced another step it will take in order to meet its goal of bringing down its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, cutting pollution 60 percent from the power sector by 2020. Though the state-owned media provided little details of how to achieve this, the goal fits into China’s longer-term target.

Establish reporting and transparency requirements.

Transparency, according to U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern, “is an enormously important part of this agreement. I would say it’s a core part of this agreement.” This means defining when and how to report on progress, take inventory of actions, and review areas that need to be bolstered.

Create a payment system to finance climate adaptation.

There’s a huge gap between the $12 billion nations have promised in climate funds and the $100 billion annually that’s needed. It’s becoming clear that developed nations won’t meet that goal. Instead, there will be a heavy reliance on markets and private funding sources.

Put past disagreements aside.

Another obstacle to settling remaining questions around climate finance has emerged: India is insisting on gaining access to intellectual property rights to meet its clean energy goals, which U.S. businesses oppose.

Agree to return to the negotiating table regularly.

The U.S.’s pledge for Paris only goes out as far as 2025, and people are already starting to wonder when it will announce the 2030 pledge. Stern said the national target for greenhouse gasses could come in the early 2020s (something that also depends on the next administration).

Rethink the 2-degree target.

“This is half-assed and it’s half-baked,” climate scientist and activist James Hansen said from the sidelines of the Paris talks on Wednesday, arguing that countries’ commitments don’t do enough to address greenhouse gasses and sidestep more effective solutions, like a price on carbon.

Here’s a roundup of the biggest news from around the conference:

  • Divestment reaches a new milestone: $3.4 trillion in assets, which indicates the quickening growth of the movement. (New Republic)
  • Of the more than 50 corporate sponsors of the conference, several have ties to the fossil fuel industry. (Mother Jones)
  • Jeb Bush said he would have skipped the climate talks if he were president. If that happened, the U.S. would be the only major world economy not represented. (New Republic)
  • In France, there’s another group that’s really worried about climate change: winemakers. (Huffington Post)
  • The success or failure of the Paris agreement all comes down to what’s in the brackets. (The Atlantic)
  • Akon sat on a COP21 panel on sustainable development today, just the latest in his environmental exploits. (New Republic)
  • A big subject on day three is which countries will finance the innovation and programs climate change requires, and how much nations should contribute. (The New York Times)
  • The U.S. and China have appeared united at the conference, but how friendly are the two countries, really? (E&E Publishing)
  • COP21 is important, but it can also be amusing. In the first days of the conference, world leaders expressed the gravity of the talks with overused metaphors like “the planet is a patient” and “the eyes of the world are upon us.” (The Guardian)
  • Meat is a huge issue for climate change, but it’s not on the table at the negotiations. (National Journal)

Read our previous progress reports:

Monday, November 30

Tuesday, December 1