By Vishal Gulati
Katowice (Poland), Dec 15 (IANS) The UN climate change conference was locked in a stalemate over a number of contentious issues relating to finance, loss and damage, and creation of a new carbon trading market, even as it went into an extra day on Saturday.
The two-week-long climate negotiations, named COP24, was scheduled to conclude on Friday, but negotiators have been unable to stitch together an agreement despite endless rounds of negotiations and back-room diplomacy.
“The current draft texts are extremely weak on several issues of importance to the developing countries. Something as crucial as loss and damage has been completely ignored. This is of immense concern for developing countries, especially the small island states. There are problems elsewhere as well,” Harjeet Singh, global lead on climate change for ActionAid International, told IANS.
Since Friday, the main plenary, which will take the final decisions on the Paris rulebook, has been deferred many a time, with negotiators spending the entire night in informal discussions with their counterparts.
Several NGOs said Brazil’s hardline on the provisions relating to creation of a new market mechanism for trading of carbon had been the biggest issue that was delaying the conclusion of the negotiations.
Brazil has been demanding that the carbon credits it had earned under the existing market mechanism in Kyoto Protocol be allowed to be transitioned in the new market mechanism to be created for Paris Agreement.
Some other developing countries, including India and China, are also in favour of such a provision.
However, the developed countries are opposing the transition on the grounds that the quality of carbon credits earned under the existing rules was suspect.
India has not been very vocal on this demand, though it too has lots of carbon credits which it wants to transition to the new market mechanism.
On Friday, Indian head of delegation A.K. Mehta expressed confidence that all of India’s concerns “were being adequately addressed”.
The debate over what will classify as climate finance has also remained unresolved till now, said a negotiator.
In the current draft, even the loans given to developing countries can be counted towards the support that the developed countries are mandated to provide.
Developing countries are strongly opposed to this. They want only grants or soft loans to be classified as climate finance.
The plenary is likely to convene late on Saturday evening. A final agreement is not expected before early Sunday.
(Vishal Gulati is in Katowice at the invitation of Climate Trends to cover the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP24. He can be contacted at [email protected])