COP Boss Pushes Simplified Text – Twice – In Bid To Move Climate Talks Forward

Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pular-Vidal whittled 50 pages of text down to seven on Thursday, and he did so twice: once in the morning and once at night. The first time, someone accidentally posted his proposal on the UNFCCC web site. The second time, it went up officially – but only after a long day that saw the G-77 and China walk out in anger following the first posting.

11 December 2014 | LIMA| Peru | For a brief moment, Manuel Pular-Vidal seemed to have lost his spark. As Peru’s Minister of Environment, he’s also President of the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and he’s been tirelessly shepherding delegates to the talks here towards an agreement on how best to tackle climate change between now and 2020, which is when a new climate agreement is supposed to come into effect, and what should go into the building blocks of that new agreement – so-called Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions (INDC).

But he looked drained and almost haggard as he introduced Kishan Kumarsingh, who heads the negotiating body charged with creating a basic text. Kumarsingh then reported that his group had failed to move beyond the 50-page document containing 36 paragraphs, almost all with several options: “In a nutshell, we have not had any progress on how we proceed with the textual negotiations on the text we completed…last night.”

Pular-Vidal then launched onto a 20-minute harangue that blended into a rallying cry and ended with him calling Kumarsingh and fellow co-chair Artur Runge-Metzger into a closed-door meeting designed to yield a simplified negotiating text – a draft of which was accidentally posted to the UNFCCC’s web site in the morning, prompting the walkout by the G-77 and China that appears to have prompted Pular-Vidal’s dramatic appeal in the first place.

Finally, at 10:30pm local time, he posted a new negotiating text that boiled 50 pages of bloated text offering several options for each paragraph down to seven pages comprised of 17 paragraphs, only four of which had options. Each of those four has only three options, and each of those three is clearly delineated from the others.

<h4>The Speech</h4>Pular-Vidal drew a standing ovation for his appeal to put legalistic thinking aside and focus on core values.

“This isn’t a linguistic discussion,” he said. “It’s a substantial discussion.”

He conceded the need for negotiators to look out for their own national interests, but urged them to

“The solution is not in the words, not in the dots or points, but in the substance,” he said, recounting his 28 years in environmental law. “You are my colleagues. Most of you are ministers of environment; some of you are ministers of foreign affairs; and I’m sure we believe in the same thing. Obviously we recognize your domestic needs, your domestic problems, your internal political difficulties.

“Don’t leave me alone,” he concluded. “Work with me together, based on confidence, to deal with the problem.”

In the morning, we’ll see how well the appeal worked.


Steve Zwick

I edit Ecosystem Marketplace, which is a news service focused on environmental finance. With this blog, I hope to offer coverage that is a bit lighter and more holistic than what we offer on EM.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *