Alumni at COP21: Keeping fingers crossed at the negotiations

In the first of a series of blogs from Edinburgh alumni attending COP21 in Paris, 09/10 Carbon Management graduate Gautam Jindal reports on why he’s at the conference.
Wednesday 2nd December 2015

In 2009, when I was a candidate for the Masters in Carbon Management at University of Edinburgh, a large delegation from our class attended COP-15 at Copenhagen. Although I was unable to attend the COP at Copenhagen, I am now here in Paris attending the historic COP-21. This COP is expected to result in a legally binding deal applicable to all parties and one that includes emission reduction efforts from not just developed countries, but developing countries as well.

Gautam COP Photo

In the five years that have passed since I graduated from the Carbon Masters, I have worked in corporate carbon management and sustainability reporting in India for four years and currently, I am a researcher at the National University of Singapore’s Energy Studies Institute. I work on a number of research areas, one of which includes tracking the progress of climate change negotiations and identifying areas that could of importance for Singapore and the ASEAN region. Our results will contribute to Singapore’s understanding of the areas in which it needs to enhance its preparedness so that it can fully comply with all the requirements of the Paris Agreement.

Thus, I am keenly following the negotiations under the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), wherein the various elements of the Paris Package – the Agreement and the accompanying COP decision text are being hotly debated. As I write this piece at the end of the second day since ADP negotiations began, different aspects of the agreement and decision text are being negotiated simultaneously under different “Spin-off groups” and further in “Informal Informals”. The proceedings of these groups are only open to party delegations but observers are able to watch the live proceeding of the contact group. The contact group serves to negotiate on some cross-cutting aspects of the decision text and is also the forum where the results from all spin-off groups are summarized at the end of the day.

Alumni Dhanush Dinesh, Igor De Albuquerque and Gautam at COP21
Alumni Dhanush Dinesh, Igor De Albuquerque and Gautam at COP21

As of now, there are concerns that while some groups such as the one discussion “Transparency” are making good progress, while others such as “Workstream 2” and “Technology Transfer” have ended up adding more brackets and options. The COP President has reminded all parties that they must be willing to compromise on their negotiating positions and ensure that they are ready to hand over a more concise draft text to the COP, when the ADP closes on Saturday. Meanwhile, all of us at the venue stay glued to the live broadcast, keeping our fingers crossed.

Update: A new version of Draft Agreement and Decision Text has been uploaded on the UNFCCC website as of the morning of 03 December 2015.

Hear from other staff, students and alumni at COP21