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Paris UN climate conference 2015: Old and new alliances line up in shadow box

The Eiffel Tower lights up with the slogan “Action Now” as part of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris. Photo: AP/Michel EulerParis: New and old alliances are making their mark on the Paris climate summit as ministers including ‘s Julie Bishop shadow box their way through key disputes over what will end up in a global agreement..
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Different groupings of countries sought to position themselves ahead of the Wednesday release of a new draft version of the agreement,

which negotiators said would be the biggest test yet of the summit as it would reveal the depth of the divisions that remain.

If any group of countries choose to reject the new draft it would likely fracture the talks and threaten a final outcome, due by Friday.

The most powerful of the emerging economies – the so-called BASIC group of Brazil, South Africa, India and China – released a statement calling for rich countries to rapidly boost financial help for poorer nations to cope with climate change, which is a major area of dispute in the talks.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes a group of industrialised nations – in particular the United States, Canada and – continued to push for major emerging economies to be required to do more than has been expected in the past.

In particular, they have been agitating to expand the donor base for climate funding to include the most advanced of the developing countries – notably China. But they stress that these contributions from developing countries would be voluntary.

Perhaps the most significant moment on Tuesday was a joint statement by the European Union and 79 mostly poor African and small island countries. In part, it aimed to break down some of the traditional barriers between the developing and developed world.

The EU-African-islander statement called for a legally binding, ambitious and fair deal that established a long-term goal to tackle global warming.

It set out agreed positions on some key disputes, including how often emissions targets should be reviewed under the Paris agreement.

EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said: “These negotiations are not about ‘them’ and ‘us’. These negotiations are about all of us, both developed and developing countries, finding a common ground and solution together.” <a data-cke-saved-href=”” href=””></a>

Elsewhere, observers still have one eye on what is known as the Like Minded Developing Country group. It includes India and China and several countries such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Malaysia that are regarded as troublesome wildcards that have sought to move procedural motions that, if successful, have would slowed the negotiations.

Russia is not in this group but has been dubbed a “black box” by European negotiators because of the uncertainty surrounding the role it may play.

Countries are starting to flag their final negotiating positions. One European Union negotiator told Fairfax Media that the continent would be inclined to sacrifice some of the ambition of the final agreement provided it included a system to review emissions target with some integrity.

China and India are among nations calling for greater transparency about climateaid that is supposed to amount to $US100 billion ($136 billion) a year by 2020, and rise after that.

The EU delegate said the richer nations of Europe would likely have little problem complying with that as their reporting systems on climate finance were already open.

Of greater importance to the donors will be what happens to the money they provide. Among the options being negotiated is initially having different transparency demands for rich and developing nations, with the requirements to converge in the future.

Wednesday will likely see the talks enter a final spurt, but the EU negotiator said they were not expected to finish on time by 6pm on Friday. If they did, she said it would be a bad sign.

“It would mean we have concluded a low-level, minimalist treaty and that is not our goal,” she said.

She said success would be a treaty strong enough – even before future reviews to accelerate carbon cuts – to send a clear signal of a global shift away from fossil fuels.

Fairfax Media is a partner of the United Nations Foundation

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