I asked Twitter’s greatest diplomat, the French ambassador to the USA, Gerard Araud, if he could predict what is going through the mind of his boss, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius?
Fabius, you see, is overseeing the final stretch of the climate talks in Paris and has pledged to have a final draft of the climate deal by 9am on Saturday. This is a tall order. Here’s Fabius at a press conference earlier today.
“I will have, I will be in a position (on Saturday) morning at 9:00am…to present to all parties a text, which, I am sure, will be approved and will be a big step forward for humanity as a whole,” Mr Fabius said. “We are almost at the end of the road and I am optimistic.”
This will be tough, but not at all impossible. All along throughout this process Fabius as the host and “president” of COP21, has played the critical role of editor-in-chief of the Paris outcome document. He’s taken the concerns of the various parties and reflected them in draft text that whittles away at some of the differences. He’s done an excellent job up to now and accordingly, there have been no real crisis points in these negotiations.
So with just hours to go before the clock strikes 9am, what does the French Ambassador think is going through the mind of Mr. Fabius?
@MarkLGoldberg vanitas vanitatum and omnia vanitas.
— Gérard Araud (@GerardAraud) December 11, 2015
For those of us who don’t speak Latin, this translates as “Vanity of Vanities and all is vanity.” It is basically the most perfect summation of the kind of brinksmanship that often accompanies the final moments high stakes diplomacy.
As these negotiations come down to the wire and all parties begin to show their final hands — and ultimate red lines — it is up to Fabius to creatively reflect these red lines in a draft text that offers some face saving way for governments to soften their positions. He needs to dream up a way that ALL governments around the world can present this outcome as a win for their national interests.
Needless to say, assuaging the concerns of potential spoilers while maintaing a high degree of ambition in the text is a difficult task. And right now, the stakes could not be higher.