Monday, November 07, 2016

After Years of Delay, Climate Talks Face a New Problem:  Speed

Flags from different countries are displayed at the World Climate Change Conference 2016 (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco, November 6, 2016. (Credit: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal) Click to Enlarge.
Efforts to build a new global deal to tackle climate change were for many years criticized for moving at a glacial pace.  But this week climate negotiators meeting in Morocco find themselves facing an entirely new problem:  a deal that, astonishingly, has come into effect more than three years ahead of schedule.

The Paris Agreement on climate change, designed to start in 2020, entered into force on Friday, a month after reaching key ratification thresholds. On Sunday the United Nations said 100 parties - 99 countries and the European Union - had formally joined the accord.

Its swift entry into force has been a cause for celebration - and some puzzlement.

“We’re now in an interesting conundrum we never thought we’d find ourselves in:  After pushing for decisive and speedy action, we got it,” said Paula Caballero, global director of the climate program at the Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI).

The immediate challenge for negotiators is that, by law, countries that have ratified the deal must start agreeing the rules to implement it at the next U.N. climate conference.

But that meeting starts on Monday in Marrakesh.  That has left officials a very short time to iron out a host of technical issues - and only about half the parties that crafted the Paris deal eligible to participate in the early decision-making.

“Because we’ve jump-started the (deal), we now have to find a way for negotiators to discuss the rules while still finding ways for other countries to come in and join,” said Liz Gallagher, a climate diplomacy expert at London-based E3G, a sustainable-development think tank.

But that is "a good problem to have”, she said.  “It’s the first time we really feel the urgency in the negotiations is reflected.”

Read more at After Years of Delay, Climate Talks Face a New Problem:  Speed

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