Paris Talks

ClimateWire's Friedman discusses latest negotiation developments

With the United Nations' climate summit expected to come to a close this weekend, will negotiators successfully achieve a final deal? On today's The Cutting Edge, ClimateWire deputy editor Lisa Friedman discusses the latest developments in the negotiations, direct from the talks in Le Bourget, France.


Monica Trauzzi: Welcome to a special edition of The Cutting Edge. E&E has had a team of reporters covering all details of the U.N.'s climate negotiations in Le Bourget, France, which are expected to come to a close this weekend. Joining me today is ClimateWire deputy editor Lisa Friedman, direct from the conference.

Lisa, home stretch here. We're hearing calls for the French to be more aggressive with negotiators as we head into this final weekend. Describe the dynamic that you're seeing from negotiators and what are you hearing on the ground.

Lisa Friedman: Right now the dynamic is exhaustion. Negotiators received a new text last night around 10:30, and they've thought about it all night long into the dawn. The text that they got, which is going to be -- which is a pared-down version of other possible agreements that might come out of this, really put a lot of countries in a tight spot. It called for a lot of ambition from both developed and developing countries. Countries kind of stuck to their red lines on a lot of issues, on some things, and everybody's looking to see what will happen tomorrow when a new text comes out. Right now, things are pretty quiet. People are meeting behind closed doors. There's a lot of bilateral meetings. You always know when there's not a lot of noise happening that things are happening behind the scenes.

Monica Trauzzi: You described yesterday's draft text as one riddled with political bullet holes. This is a story that ran in ClimateWire yesterday. What are the biggest holes that need repairing in the current text?

Lisa Friedman: So right now, different countries are upset about different things. One thing that is very important for the U.S. to see is a system of transparency that wealthy countries and developing companies are both held to. They think it's very important that the traditional system that has been the hallmark of this negotiation, of this architecture here, which is that there's two categories -- wealthy countries do one thing and developing countries do something else -- really needs to change. All countries are putting emissions targets on the table. They really want to see that all countries are held to the same rigorous standards of when they report on those -- on the progress, how rigorous that reporting is and how heavily verified it is by an outside body.

Developing countries, on the other hand, are unhappy with what they're seeing from wealthy countries in some places. They're seeing not enough money on the table post-2020. They're seeing a real hesitation, especially on the part of the U.S., to make an agreement on an issue very dear to some island countries and vulnerable countries called loss and damage, and that is essentially acknowledging that there are impacts that countries are facing now that they can't adapt to and those need to be dealt with and paid for.

Monica Trauzzi: How much negotiating leverage did the U.S. buy itself with Secretary Kerry's pledge of $800 million for adaptation measures?

Lisa Friedman: I think a bit of leverage. I've talked to negotiators from developed and developing countries, and a lot of African countries especially were very heartened to see Secretary Kerry mention adaptation specifically and put money toward it specifically. There's a lot of feeling among the most vulnerable countries that there's much more emphasis here on mitigation than adaptation, which is something they're very concerned about. And I think for the U.S., part of the leverage that you're talking about, you're seeing in a lot of different ways. The U.S. has joined what's called a "high ambition coalition." They've dubbed themselves that, and it's a really interesting cross-cutting between developed and developing countries. We're really bridging rich-poor divide ... a lot of lines on this. Brazil says that they're about to join. It's the U.S. and the European Union, but it's also Mexico, Colombia, the least developed countries all fighting for the things that they believe make this -- would make this deal ambitious. Other countries, of course, have a different view of what ambition is here.

Monica Trauzzi: So you've covered these negotiations for years with many all-nighters. What's your prediction? Will this all come together in the end?

Lisa Friedman: You know, we have a betting pool, and as of yesterday, my bet is in for 3 a.m. on Sunday. As of yesterday, I was pretty sure I would lose. The French presidency, though people want it to be more aggressive, is really getting a lot of props here. People think that they've done a tremendous job keeping things on schedule and pushing negotiators to get the job done. You know for sure that this is going to go into Saturday. There's a new text out on Saturday morning. Myself, Jean Chemnick and Joel Kirkland will all be here around the clock following what happens, and we'll let our readers know as soon as the deal is done.

Monica Trauzzi: Lisa, we're looking forward to it. Thanks for joining me. Looking forward to continuing to read your coverage.

Lisa Friedman: Thanks so much, Monica.

Monica Trauzzi: Thank you, Lisa. More Cutting Edge coming next Friday. We'll see you then.

[End of Audio]



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