Positivity without pace: UN climate meeting finishes in good spirit and with plenty of work to do

Global transition

The gavel went down two hours earlier than the scheduled finishing time of the first UNFCCC meeting of 2015. It is difficult to tell whether this is good or bad, when we consider just how much work countries will have to do between now and the end of the year.

So what was achieved in Geneva last week? Without moving into negotiations and getting to grips with some of the most pressing issues, the meeting gave all countries ownership of the negotiation text that will be the nucleus of the agreement in Paris. Parties started the week by making additions to the existing negotiating text to make sure that it included everything that they felt was initially missing. So now, a lengthy 85-page text exists detailing all of the options from A to Z.

The hard part is yet to come. Countries will now have to plan for reducing the text, deleting some of the options and actually starting to negotiate on the key elements in the final agreement – this is no easy task among 190 participants to the negotiations.

Despite the positive spirit in Geneva, all the difficult issues such as adequacy, finance and sharing the effort remain yet to be addressed. The EU has been instrumental in emphasizing the need for comprehensive rules and transparency to ensure that the agreement countries make will deliver the future actions needed to address climate change. The EU should now build on its role to speak out more clearly on issues that are of upmost importance for developing countries – namely adaptation, finance and loss and damage.

Looking towards the work we have ahead in 2015, the EU can advance its progress in the UNFCCC through putting forward an ambitious position to support adaptation, address loss and damage, and provide finance and means of implementation.

By Maeve McLynn, Climate and Development policy coordinator