Notes on a talk given by Christiana Figueres (Ex-Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) at the Energy Lab 04:
[my comments in square brackets]

On the Paris negotiations and the way they were formatted….

Equity is a guiding principle of the negotiations. This is because we need to respect people’s sovereignty, and not impose what to do. People, and States in particular, resist imposition; especially in chaotic and unpredictable situations – like that of climate change.

The Paris Agreement is based on what people think they can do after consultation with their people and ‘interested parties’ or ‘stakeholders’ [which, in the contemporary world, are usually the economic and military elites]. Then these countries come back to the discussion and tell us what they think they can do, which is good for them.
This is called the “Nationally Determined Contribution”.

The problem is that this will not measure up to what we need. So the agreement is designed to be dynamic. Every five years there is another meeting and people decide what they can do now, given their experiences and the improvements in technology and its availability. That is, we expect the NDC’s to approach what is needed. [However, fossil fuel companies and their servants could derail this path – the path seems to be built on optimism, and requires people’s political action to keep it going]

This so called ‘ratchetting period’ was originally going to be every ten years, so its actually more responsive than originally planned and some targets have already been achieved before expected. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver – [that way people are not discouraged – we hope]