COP21 – Day 3

If this blog were a climate text, it would look like this:

[ [Inviting]  [Encouraging]Green party supporters [observers] and [other interested parties] civil society actors to consider the [progress] [results] of climate negotiations within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in which the parties to this [agreement], [legally binding agreement], [agreement having legal force] agree to reduce greenhouse gases to ensure that the global average temperature increase is held to [no more than 2 degrees C above those levels before the Industrial Revolution],[far less than 2 degrees], [1.5 degrees], [as far below 2 degrees as is possible…]. ]

And so on.  Everything within square brackets means we do not agree to this yet  – or maybe ever.  And note that there is a big fat bracket at the beginning and end of this bit… Well, that means the whole text is not agreed.  There are 54 pages that look like this even after two days of negotiation.  And the big fat bracket at the beginning and end of this example bit can also be found at the beginning and end of the whole 54 pages we are negotiating at COP21.  That means the whole draft is not agreed.

The COP presidency (the term that means the host French government) wants all this fixed with a new draft text ready before next week.  Don’t hold your breath.

Still, this is expected.  No country wants to drop its pet square brackets without having it count for something.  Deal-making and horse trading waits until the last minute.  That would be next week.  The good news for Canadians is that our negotiators are no longer waging war on progress.  Canada is often silent when I wish we would join in the calls from the European Union and low-lying island states like Tuvalu to hold global average temperature at no more than 1.5 degrees C.

But at least we are no longer engaged in acts of sabotage.  Other delegates and climate activists from around the world smile as they greet me.  They are happy to see “the new Canada.”  Let us expand our reach to be leaders in the tense showdown over language, principles and purpose in this new treaty.  We have the world’s attention.  Let’s jump out from behind the square brackets.