Home / Politics / Policy /  Paris talks: Civil society groups rail at ban from spin-off groups’ meetings

The first day’s flurry of activity over, negotiators from more than 190 countries on Tuesday got down to the serious business of trying to forge a consensus on a new global climate regime, but civil society groups complained they were being kept out.

Civil society groups, reportedly backed by some developing countries, said they were being barred from attending the meetings of so-called spin-off groups. Civil society groups usually meticulously record the minutes of such meetings, including the statements and proposals made by country delegates.

Spin-off groups are required to negotiate and resolve specific issues. Over the next three-four days these groups will try and develop the penultimate draft that will be revealed by Saturday for further negotiations.

“This is doublespeak. This is actually beyond that... It is hypocrisy. At the Lima climate summit, civil society was recognized as one of the important stakeholders in climate action but as we come near to the Paris agreement, we are sent out. On the one hand you recognize civil society as a major player and on the other hand we are not allowed," said Meena Raman of the Third World Network, an observer group which keeps detailed records of climate talks.

Raman said the group of Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs) had called for civil society participation in the spin-off groups but no developed country had joined in the demand. “I think they (the developed world) are trying to prevent civil society from actually watching or observing what is really going on in the negotiations. They don’t want to make their positions public."

In the Conference of Parties (CoP)-21 that began in Paris on Monday, over 190 nations are trying to negotiate a new UN-sanctioned climate deal to agree a successor regime to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

After Day 1, when leaders from nearly 150 nations pledged to work for an ambitious climate deal, negotiators began discussing specific details and iron out differences—a hard task, as developed and developing nations are at odds over a range of issues, including technology transfer and climate finance.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday exhorted the industrialized world to do more to tackle climate change, saying India wants a climate deal that is based on the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR).

The concept of CBDR in international relations underpins the polluter pays principle.

In his plenary address at the CoP on Monday, Modi said he hopes advanced nations will take on ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions.

“It is not just a question of historical responsibility. They also have the most room to make the cuts and make the strongest impact. And, climate justice demands that, with the little carbon space we still have, developing countries should have enough scope to grow. Developed countries must fulfil their responsibility to make clean energy available, affordable and accessible to all in the developing world. This is in our collective interest," Modi said.

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