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The “Danish Text”, negotiation process, and prospects for agreement

Yesterday, a document, now known as the “Danish Text”, a draft agreement prepared by the Danish Delegation for so called long-term cooperative action was leaked to the broader negotiation. This document includes test requiring targets for developed countries and more significantly, a requirement that developing countries take nationally appropriate mitigation actions subject to international monitoring and verification. These obligations would not apply to least developed countries. This represents a major ratcheting up in the obligations to which developing countries would be subject under a future agreement.

The developing countries were not consulted in preparation of the “Danish Text” and they are very, very unhappy. The Danes claim that the document was a draft discussion paper for internal purposes. This explanation has not had much impact on discussions at the COP.

This development is burning through precious time that could be used for negotiating the details of the agreement. More worryingly, it now seems to have the potential to derail the process by which one might be created.

Normally at this stage of a COP, contact groups composed of a limited set of the parties would be formed to hash out separate details of an agreement. At the end of the negotiation, parties would come together to bless the work done in small groups. This is the only way to get things done with so many parties. In order to form contact groups, there has to be consensus (read here unanimity) that they should be formed to hash out details.

Now, because of the presumption of an outcome implied by the Danish Text, many developing countries are, at least for now, opposing their formation. Instead they are insisting that all issues be discussed in full plenary, with all nations representatives present. This is another way of saying “we will not negotiate.”

Meanwhile, time passes. Not clear how this might or will be resolved.

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