The Climate of the Rings – UNFCCC explained with Lord of the Rings

This article tries to explain the current process in the negotiations with quotes from J.R.R. Tolkiens “Middle earth”-saga.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,”

said Frodo.

Oh Frodo, you are just so right! Climate Change and its effects are bad. “This is madness”, as Yeb Sano said in his famous speech at the Climate Talks in Warsaw.  
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Gandalf then pretty much sums up: There are historical emissions, there are different responsibilities, there are different capabilities and there is also need for fairness. We cannot just not care about the climate crisis and so we need to act.  
Pippin: “I didn’t think it would end this way.”
Gandalf: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here.”
Gandalf maybe took a look into a Palantír (which can show the future). We will maybe have an agreement in Paris – but still: Paris will not be the end of the route. We need to continue mobilisation to push the countries in which we are living to make ambitious climate policies.  
“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.”
Some Parties might have ambition, but if they have, but they cloak it very well. Just take a look at the ambition gap – the gap between necessary emission reductions and what is already pledged. But in every country of the Global North exist possibilities for higher emission reductions.  
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
UNFCCC-sessions are always a little stressful. Just take a look at this schedule, which only shows the formal meetings. Climate Talks are often a lot of stress as there are many interesting things ongoing at the same time. One cannot attend all sessions, so prioritizing is important. But how it is for delegates?  
“I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.”
For them it is slightly easier. Countries agreed to find a way to a new agreement. And currently the try to figure out how to get there. Since Geneva, they now have a negotiating text, which in the end already includes the new agreement.  
“Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to.”
What they are trying to figure out currently is what the agreement should be. The text was, at the beginning of this session 89 pages long and is reduced more and more. The main problem: Nothing is sure yet: After reducing some points they are now at 86 pages, but would need to come to around 18-20 pages in the end of Paris.  
“Warning? Warning against what?’ said Boromir sharply. ‘Against delay. Against the way that seems easier. Against refusal of the burden that is laid on me.“
Much of this slow process is the result of Copenhagen. The Climate Talks in Copenhagen failed and therefore one of the main objectives of the first week was to build trust between the countries. This heavily slowed down the negotiations as no real progress was made. This is something, nearly all Parties agreed on in the “Stocktaking Plenary” on Monday morning, in which was summarized and countries exchanged their view on what has happened so far.  
“Actually in Hobbiton and Bywater every day in the year was somebody’s birthday, so that every hobbit in those parts had a fair chance of at least one present at least once a week. But they never got tired of them.”
Countries were happy as Hobbits from Hobbiton and Bywater. Not happy about the possible present, but about how the process went so far. They were happy about the Co-chairs and Co-facilitators and the attitude which has been shown so far.  
“And then it seemed to him that…the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
Consent was also, that the Parties want a new document. This document should be strongly streamlined, and show the process which have been made while this session. It should be published at the end of this session lastly.  
“You shall not pass!”
Cutting down the text also means, in the long term, to lose some options, they “shall not pass!” But these options are also positions of Parties. Countries don’t want to lose their options, and then it is very hard to make progress and to merge options in the text together.  
“Now at this last we must take a hard road, a road unforeseen. There lies our hope, if hope it be. To walk into peril – to Mordor. We must send the Ring to the Fire.”
In the end, no one must go to Mordor, and the Ring does not need to be destroyed, but in Paris an agreement is needed. To do so, some big rocks are still one the way.  
“The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!”
Sentences like this really build you up at some point. It often looks like there is only very small process, but the majority of people attending climate talks are very inspiring. And as depressive as the outcomes often are, often there is still the feeling that you can enable change. And that a greener earth is still possible.