In the small hours of Friday morning negotiators and the hardiest observers set about devouring the new draft text of the soon-to-be Paris Agreement. Soon a buzz was building around Le Bourget’s cavernous halls: what were all these strange phrases littering the text, references to flying through fluffy clouds, giving a speech naked and sitting an exam when you haven’t revised the subject matter?
In some instances changes in style were abrupt: “…Notes with concern that the estimated aggregate greenhouse gas emission levels resulting from the intended nationally determined contributions in 2025 and 2030 do not fall within least-cost 2˚C scenarios, and that flying through white fluffly clouds I see my life playing out far below me and that much greater emission reduction efforts than those associated with the intended nationally determined contributions will be required in the period after 2025 and 2030”.
A hasty press conference was called and the UNFCCC Secretariat was forced to admit that as the drafters faced their second straight nuit blanche, they had been drifting in and out of sleep and accidentally adding random sequences of their dreams into the text they were editing. Along with the fluffy clouds and naked speech entries, some equally fantastical dream sequences seemed to have slipped into the text, such as “limiting global warming to 1.5C”.
The sleep-deprived hallucinations were not confined to the written text. Those still awake at 5am on Friday allegedly heard Peru’s Minister Pulgar-Vidal concocting a vivid sleep-deprived hallucination of red lines becoming a red road and a red carpet; it was only when he jolted upright that the smattering of delegates still awake realised that he, too, had been sleep-talking. Another delegate, surreptitiously snoozing in plenary with her head resting on a microphone stand, woke up with a start and exclaimed, “I was having this crazy dream! We were at the Paris COP and it was being magnificently managed by the French delegation, we were near the end of the second week and had there had been no histrionics, no brinkmanship breakdown, and we were even making progress on a strong text!”. “But that’s what’s actually happening” said her neighbour from the country coming next in the alphabet. “Are you sure? Because in the dream we had agreed on undifferentiated commitments, had secured a compensation mechanism for loss and damage, and Laurent Fabius was wearing nothing but a superman cape”. “Ah ok, so you really were dreaming”.
Elsewhere the EU delegation was reportedly going through their own internal negotiation about who was going to be first for a stint in the delegation office beds – with first priority going to those suddenly breaking down into existential panics of “why am I here? what does it all MEAN? and what is a transferable mitigation outcome anyway??”. Other less well provided-for delegations saw a sudden increase in religious fervour among their delegations, with the “meditation room” becoming increasingly popular (and what happens in the meditation room, stays in the meditation room).
Meanwhile not even the oversize polar bear terrorising the entrance to the talks was surprised at the announcement that talks would over-run into Saturday, with climate journalists pushing out their “climate talks into overtime as issues of finance and trust dominate” articles that they penned in anticipation last week or even last year.
As negotiators entered their third straight night of intense discussions, millions will be waiting to see what levels of creativity and hallucinatory sleep-deprivation will be produced by Saturday morning.