COP21 Political Scenarios



In the shadow of the horrific terror attacks, COP21 will take place in Paris next week. Today, E3G launches our COP21 Political Scenarios.  These scenarios do not attempt to take a crystal ball to the negotiations and predict the future, but they do aim to identify the political drivers and trends which have shaped negotiations ahead of Paris and how this could realistically play out in the agreement, and what this means for the strength of the outcome in Paris.

The Paris political moment is the fuel and the Paris agreement is the engine that sustains transformation.  What matters is not only the deal in the room, but the impacts on the world and continuing the unprecedented political momentum we’ve witnessed. We need an ambitious but honest agreement, recognising that Paris will not be the ultimate conclusion but will signal ‘the beginning of a solution for tackling climate change on a global scale.

These scenarios are not simply the collective guestimates and naive wishing from our friends and colleagues, they are underpinned by an extensive set of political economy analysis in the major economies, as well as beyond 75 years of diplomatic insights from within E3G. The outcome is to demonstrate that the deal is not done, and there is still plenty room for manoeuvre inside the negotiation rooms and corridors to turn the agreement into an enduring, dynamic regime.

The three potential scenarios are:

Scenario 1: ‘Le Zombie’ – The least ambitious of the three, this scenario results in a tactical deal rather than an enduring regime. Details are agreed at the negotiator level, with the deal limited to the INDCs. The outcome lacks precision, is highly unstable and is at significant risk of collapse in the future.

Scenario 2: ‘Comme ci, Comme ça’ – This scenario is more ambitious, thanks to effective French diplomacy and strategic guidance from key Western leaders. The deal includes guarantees on financial and adaptation support, and although elements remain vague the overall outcome is positively received given a collaborative atmosphere. The outcome needs nurturing to survive and is not enough to drive political momentum on climate action forward beyond Paris.

Scenario 3: ‘Va Va Voom’ – Driven by leaders in both developed and developing countries, this scenario sees all major components of the deal outlined, with sufficient clarity to keep the world on track to 2°C. The deal provides clear strategic guidance, empowering future action and setting up 2020 for the next round of negotiations. The outcome cements a new enduring regime, driving climate change into the mainstream.

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