Getty Images

Where do the Paris negotiations go from here?

Negotiators have a lot left to do in order to streamline a global climate agreement in Paris that’s currently more than 50 pages long and riddled with brackets. Those brackets signify what wording delegations still must resolved. As The Atlantic explains, the “words within those brackets range from the mundane (‘such as forests’) to the obscure (‘expressed in W/m²’) to the critically important, with the latter often expressed in a surreal string of brackets within brackets within brackets.” All of these need resolving by the end of the conference. 

The French government is worried the pace so far has been too slow to meet a weekend deadline, when the conference host expects to receive a text of more narrow options. “My message is clear: we must accelerate the process because there is still a lot of work to do,” France Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. By one negotiator’s estimate, they will have to resolve a bracket every 90 seconds for the rest of the week. Then, negotiators will take the streamlined text to hash out the much bigger disagreements plaguing the talks, like defining how developed nations pay for their part in creating climate change. 

It doesn’t bode too well for an agreement on December 11 if the talks are already behind schedule, on Day 3 no less. In retrospect, maybe President Barack Obama shouldn’t have gone over his allotted speech time on Monday.