COP 21: As deal comes together, China and Saudi Arabia push back

Yesterday I wrote about the divide between developed and developing countries on the matter of climate change liability, so it's a pleasant surprise that the European Union and 79 African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries have formed an alliance to back a legally binding climate agreement with 5-year review intervals

Also encouraging was the release today of a clean draft of the Paris Agreement.  There are still many contentious questions to resolve in the next two days, including fundamental issues such as the purpose or goal of the agreement:

And on the collective end-game:

And with the end in sight, obstructionists are emerging.  So far reports call out China and Saudi Arabia for being the most active in frustrating progress.  On Saudi Arabia:

Behind the closed doors of negotiating sessions [...] the Saudis have strenuously resisted efforts to enshrine ambitious goals into the text of a Paris agreement.

The Saudis objected even to the mention of 1.5C – a new more ambitious target for limiting warming now endorsed by more than 100 countries including vulnerable low-lying states and big polluters such as the European Union and US.  The kingdom balked at the goal of decarbonising the economy by 2050.  The Saudis have also objected to demands for periodic reviews of climate plans, according to accounts from negotiators and observers. Saudi delegates complain that submitting a climate plan before Paris was difficult enough.

“It is unacceptable for developing countries, like my own, to be asked to participate in this so called ratchet mechanism,” the Saudis were reported to have told the session.  “It was tough, we had to go to every ministry, every part of government. We developing countries don’t have the capacity to do this every five years. We are too poor, we have too many other priorities. It’s unacceptable,” a Saudi delegate said.

And on China:

Beijing's negotiating stance was causing anxiety among many delegates on Tuesday as the Paris talks intensified ahead of Friday's deadline, partly because India was expected to be a bigger obstacle to a successful agreement.
In Paris, however, one delegate told the FT that behind closed doors, India has been "quite helpful" on some measures while China's negotiators have been siding with other developing countries on several divisive issues, including a push to provide more information about the volume of each country's emissions.
In a sign of the tensions growing in private meetings this week, the EU climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete told reporters that although China's President Xi and other world leaders had called for strong climate action at the opening of the Paris talks, "things are much more complex" inside the negotiating rooms.
 The Gulf Cooperation Council's Plenary HQ at COP 21.  Photo: Ryan Stoa.

The Gulf Cooperation Council's Plenary HQ at COP 21.  Photo: Ryan Stoa.