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Just a quick update here from Paris: COP21, originally slated to run from November 30 to December 11, will now continue at least until Saturday.

This latest news is neither good nor bad, and we more or less expected it. COPs rarely if ever finish on time, and last year’s COP20 in Lima extended 48 hours past its original deadline.

Since our last update, a few changes have been made to the final text. In terms of controlling temperature rise by 2100, negotiators chose neither the “below 2°C” option nor the more ambitious “below 1.5°C” option but the “middle-of-the-road” option: Keeping temperature “well below” 2°C with an effort to keep them below 1.5°C.

US Secretary of State John Kerry at COP21. (Photo via COP21 News)

US Secretary of State John Kerry at COP21. (Photo via COP21 News)

The most interesting, and unsettling, news is that the US delegation is fighting hard to keep US companies from being liable for damages related to climate change. If the US gets its way, the final draft text will make it so that climate-based lawsuits will not be possible, leaving the damages done to non-polluting countries without means of compensation.

The end does appear to be in sight, however. The website parisagreement.org has a running analysis of the text and notes that the number of brackets (areas of contention that need to be negotiated) has shrunk from 1,609 when the COP began to 361 on Wednesday to just 48 as of last night.

Another troubling area of contention is the inclusion – or possible exclusion – of human rights. The December 8 draft of article 2.2 stated:

[This Agreement shall be implemented on the basis of equity and science, and in accordance with the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances, and on the basis of respect for human rights and the promotion of gender equality [and the right of peoples under occupation].]

As you can see, we’ve got a double bracket going on there. Since this draft, however, “gender equality” and the “right of peoples under occupation” – as well as a reference to “indigenous rights” in another section of the text – have been struck out.

The Philippines, Mexico, other Latin American countries (including Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, Guatemala) and the Pacific nations have all been calling for the inclusion of “human rights” in the text. The United States, as well as Norway and Saudi Arabia, want the phrase taken out.

Whatever deal signed on Saturday (or later) will go into effect in 2020.

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