First Report from Paris – First Impressions

December 1, 2015

This year’s COP started out differently from in the past, especially different from the well-known Copenhagen COP15.  At Copenhagen, and at previous COPs, President Obama and other heads of nations came at the end of the conference, and there was a build-up to announcements.  The quick take-away yesterday was that the front-loading here may work better.  The presence of all the leaders here yesterday, including some current friends and foes, may have gotten things off to a good start by showing not only a bit of unity, but also a sign that there is growing recognition among countries that the game of brinksmanship that has been played to date, where no one wants to move ahead of anyone else, may have run out of time.

There is a discernible uptick in focus and content on adaptation and resilience here, which is likely also a sign of the overall forecast for climate change impacts.  While some funding was put forth by different sources yesterday, it was not a lot, and some looked at it as not even moving the needle.  In the type of chance encounter that happens at COPs, I sat next to a journalist from Bangladesh yesterday on the COP shuttle bus yesterday.  His first comment was “not enough assistance is being provided to countries like mine”.  He also said that one day in, this COP was feeling like Copenhagen all over again.  He talked about how the commitments submitted to the UN ahead of the COP were not enough, collectively, to keep temperatures where they needed to stay.  But when pressed, he admitted that perhaps this new model of commitments and financial instruments would serve as a structure or platform, into which can be added more commitments and funding (as opposed to having to develop an entirely new structure again.

As for the negotiations themselves, the word as of this morning is that the Text of the Agreement will not change over the course of the next few days and will likely emerge in its present form on Saturday.  At that time, France as the lead Party, will control the Text and begin meeting with the other Parties one-by-one to seek their approval.  One view is that the Text will be presented in a take-it or-leave it fashion.  Another is that any Party seeking changes will have to take the initiative to achieve a consensus of the other Parties in order for the change to be approved.

There is not much in the way of events today on the electricity sector.  Those start tomorrow.

For those looking for more information about COP-21, the best general source is a special UN site at

Specific questions can be emailed to or sent to @dandelurey.