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New COP-21 text released

A new negotiating text for the anticipated climate change agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was issued on Monday 5 October, ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) in Paris, 30 November - 11 December. At 20 pages long, the text represents a substantial agreement by the Co-Chairs tasked with drafting it. Trust is a key watchword in the UNFCCC negotiations, and the fact the Co-Chairs have been able to cut down the previous text by over three quarters, demonstrates that trust is present and progress is being made.

The text contains an adjustable global goal, limiting temperature rise to 2C or 1.5C, as well as a number of options for an interim target, including “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” and “carbon neutrality”, with the date to be determined (possibly a peaking year). A significant topic not mentioned in the main Agreement text is carbon markets, which may slip to having a brief mention in a supporting decision text instead. The key issue around Loss and Damage (how to compensate countries for climate impacts) also receives only a very short mention, leaving it wide open for future discussions. However, more will become clear when Parties meet again in Bonn, Germany between 19-23 October, where they will debate this streamlined Agreement and its contents for the first time. This will be the final meeting before COP-21.

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