The following blog by Han Chen, International Climate Advocate has been cross-posted from NRDC's The Switchboard blog. The original post is available online here.
As the Paris Climate agreement approaches, we are seeing signs of a far different process from the last-minute confusion in Copenhagen - where negotiators had to work with an unwieldy negotiating text of more than 200 pages. The latest sign of progress towards a successful Paris agreement is the release of a shortened draft negotiating text -- produced by the two co-chairs of the negotiations leading to Paris.
At the end of the last negotiating session in June, negotiators from over 190 countries gave the co-chairs the mandate to accelerate the process by producing their more concise version of the text. The new draft, released on Friday July 24th, provides a consolidated text without deleting any options that country negotiators laid out in previous sessions. In UNFCCC language, this document is a "non-paper" that does not replace the official negotiating text, but it will be the basis for discussions at the next negotiating session. The total length has been trimmed down to 83 pages.
More importantly, the co-chairs separated the text into elements that would go into a durable post-2020 "Agreement" versus details appropriate for a "Decision" on implementation that can change over time. In its current forum, the Agreement language would only be 19 pages, which is a significant improvement. In addition, there is a third section of text in the co-chairs' draft which contains key elements where negotiators must decide if these provisions are better suited for the Agreement or the Decision.