Text or Bust

17 May 2017

There comes a time, in every round of negotiations, when a clamour builds for a negotiating text. The decision to shift into textual negotiations is not to be taken lightly. ECO knows well the impact on our dear negotiators of the first glimpse of square brackets on the screen. It inevitably triggers polarization, and retreat into single-minded defence of every one of their valued textual creations.

But sooner or later, on the way to the 2018 package, negotiators have to bite the bullet and dive into textual negotiating mode. There seems to be a surge of enthusiasm for doing this during COP23 in November. ECO would strongly argue that it is necessary to reach a text at COP23. Being mindful of this, the submissions and workshops need to help countries make the leap forward towards text.

Reflecting the submissions and the workshop, the Pre-COP should gather key political questions, such as flexibility and differentiation, for Ministers to provide clear guidance to their negotiators.

There is also the question of what kind of text will emerge at COP23 and how to generate its elements. Will the paragraphs be full-blown legal text? Or should the first step be a more descriptive text that would be converted into legal text at a later date? Also, will the different elements move forward in parallel in the different groups, or will there be one consolidated draft text for the rulebook? ECO doesn’t have strong views regarding these two options, but Parties should leave Bonn this week with a clear idea, to guide their preparations for a productive COP23.

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