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Geneva: Efforts to finalize an agreement on climate change in Paris later this year gathered pace after 194 countries prepared a draft text for negotiations that includes numerous provisions in five major areas to grapple with the worst existential crisis stemming from the accumulation of greenhouse gases.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its fourth assessment report, suggested the world is on the verge of exceeding what it called the carbon budget in a short period. IPCC said the earth’s atmosphere could absorb around 800-880 giga tonnes of carbon dioxide before global warming raises temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius.

After six days of intense negotiations on elements of the climate change agreement at the Palaise des Nations in Geneva, governments approved the 86-page negotiating draft that includes proposals on mitigation, adaptation, finance, capacity-building, technology transfer, and other institutional provisions.

There is still no clarity on whether there will be a legally binding agreement or a voluntary deal without any punitive steps.

The draft text will be further streamlined in Bonn, Germany, in June, as it is replete with provisions in various areas in square brackets, implying that there is no final agreement among the members yet on any of the elements in the text.

Despite efforts to prepare a small, concise negotiating text based on what was informally agreed in Lima, Peru, last year, the Geneva meeting produced a long and unwieldy text that will be put to another round of intense negotiations in Bonn.

“We now have a formal negotiating text, which contains the views and concerns of all countries," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework on Climate Change. “The Lima Draft has now been transformed into the negotiating text and enjoys full ownership of all countries."

Several industrialized nations remained unhappy with the Geneva meeting as it failed to generate a discussion on substantive issues such as mitigation efforts by countries.

“We are unhappy that discussions did not take place on substantive issues (concerning climate change) in Geneva as members were busy on procedural aspects," Elina Bardram, a European Union official, told reporters.

The Swiss government, which hosted the meeting, has delivered a mixed message about the weeklong meetings.

“My assessment of the Geneva outcome is mixed," said Franz Xaver Perrez, a Swiss official. “First, we are glad that the meeting in Geneva succeeded to achieve the minimum that was necessary to agree on a common negotiating text, the so-called Geneva text."

“However, on the other hand, we would have liked to advance the work here in Geneva, to have a text that is not only reflecting all the different views, but a text that is also reflecting the emergence of a consensus. This is not yet achieved, there is therefore still a lot of work to be done up to Paris," Perrez told swissinfo, the Swiss public broadcaster.

Several developing countries, including India, remained skeptical at the manner in which the proceedings took place in Geneva.

“We need to make sure that the elements text is in line with the Lima decision, without backsliding or reopening the consensus achieved there. The 2015 outcome must be under the Convention, it must be balanced, in accordance with CBDR (common but differentiated responsibilities), also focus on adaptation, loss and damage as another element, emphasize on finance," an Indian official maintained at the closed-door meeting.

“There should be no ex-ante process of assessment for INDCs (intended nationally determined contributions) as they are country driven," New Delhi warned.

The like-minded developing countries group, of which India is a member, said there should be no backsliding, especially on the principle of CBDR.

The developing countries, especially India, seem concerned that attempts are made to drive countries towards “a mitigation centric agreement at the core and relegating all other issues elements to non-binding decisions".

“A clear articulation of means of implementation and specific goals for enhancing them—finance, technology transfer and capacity building—in the core agreement is necessary and integral part of it," India had insisted.

The industrialized countries led by the US and the EU have proposed new concepts that would water down the CBDR.

The US, for example, has proposed “bifurcation" among countries instead of CBDR.

CBDR must be considered in the context of new realities based on the emissions of all countries regardless of their current status, according to an EU official, who requested anonymity.

There is also no clarity on issues concerning finance and technology transfer for adaptation.

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