Climate leadership collapse leaves UN chief with a daunting task

(Climate Change News, 2 Dec 2018) The coalition that built the Paris Agreement has broken down, leaving Patricia Espinosa with few powerful friends to call on to secure a deal in Katowice.

Patricia Espinosa must find a delicate balance at this year’s major climate summit.

As head of the UN’s climate change secretariat, she’s supposed to quietly mediate the contentious talks over global climate change rules. But in the end, it may fall on her to muscle countries to consensus and save the promise of the celebrated Paris climate agreement.

Like in Paris in 2015, negotiators from around the world are meeting to agree on efforts to limit global warming. But missing in Katowice, Poland are some of the political heavyweights who joined forces to land the deal Paris: the US, the French presidency and Espinosa’s fiery predecessor.

That leaves Espinosa as one of the few people at these crucial talks with the potential to break a gridlock.

Her message to negotiators ahead of the summit: everyone must come ready to cede ground.

“There are many creative ways of trying to put together some landing zones that can make different parties have the minimum amount of comfort,” Espinosa told Climate Home News in an interview. “In multilateral agreements, it’s always finding this delicate balance where everyone can see his own position reflected, even if it’s not 100% what they would expect.”

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Climate Change News, 2 Dec 2018: Climate leadership collapse leaves UN chief with a daunting task