- UN talks wrap in Bonn amidst continued signals that transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy is accelerating
- Streamlined draft text & mandate to make further cuts set the stage for governments to make more rapid progress in the coming months
- Governments face increasingly clear choice: listen to this growing call for climate action or end up on the wrong side of history
Against a backdrop of real world momentum for climate action, another fortnight of UN talks wrapped up in Bonn, Germany today, with growing pressure on negotiators to “pick up the pace” over the next six months. It was fitting that government negotiators had to navigate through crowds of excited campaigners calling for an #EnergyRevolution on their way to the World Conference Center Thursday. Around the world people are waking up to the reality of climate change and taking their own action to tackle the crisis while calling on their government leaders to do the same. A historic announcement from the G7, this week, signalling the beginning of the end for fossil fuels, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund’s decision to divest from coal and IKEA’s announcement to pledge €1billion to climate action all show the real-economy and real-Leaders like Merkel understand what’s at stake in Paris.
In some respects, Bonn delivered. Governments reorganised and partly streamlined the lengthy draft Paris agreement, from 90 to 85 pages, in in an attempt to make it easier for ministers to provide the necessary political steer to their negotiating teams after a series of high level meetings over the next few months including the French COP21 Presidency’s Informal Ministerial meeting on 20-21 July. They did not, however, progress to substantive negotiations on key issues in Bonn, and the sleepy pace over the last fortnight indicates that the talks are yet to harness the signals from the outside world. This needs to change and the negotiations need to speed up if we are going to build an agreement which moves beyond current commitments which scientists say would see the climate spin out of control, devastating vulnerable communities and impacting human rights. However, the minor progress in Bonn could set the stage for speeding up the negotiations as countries were unanimous in giving a mandate to the co-chairs of the Paris Agreement negotiations to produce a more compact draft agreement to guide talks and set forward initial ideas about how a Paris package covering finance, mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage should be structured.
Efforts to build on existing climate action commitments in the near-term saw progress toward a negotiated agreement in Paris. To date, countries have held a series of expert briefings on what they could do to boost climate action, but the ideas raised weren’t linked to support for implementation. All country blocs put ideas forward. This is an an important starting point, because the package in Paris is twofold: a new agreement for the post-2020 period, and an agreement or set of decisions about what countries will be doing in the pre-2020 period. Cuts before 2020 must be a clear outcome of the Paris talks .These cuts must be achieved by collaborative action to scale up renewable energy and energy efficiency as well as through developed countries increasing their targets and delivering on their promised $100 billion finance package. This work needs to speed up if the world is to avoid the very worst impacts of climate change.
When it came to dealing with the results of a two-year science-based review that notes government agreements on the agreed red line of a 2ºC rise in average temperatures won’t be sufficient to protect people and the planet from significant harm, it was a far less rosy picture in negotiations. There was hope that Wednesday would deliver a breakthrough that could formally link the review’s findings to negotiations on the new climate agreement. Persistent blocking led by Saudi Arabia, and backed by China and India, means the issue won’t be dealt with until Paris.
There was a breakthrough on the UN-backed forest protection scheme, REDD+, while some used the fortnight of talks to show they were ready to step up and lead. Both Morocco and Ethiopia have submitted national climate actions plans that could deliver 32% and 64% emissions cuts respectively. – if rich countries deliver the support they have promised. Their efforts are in stark contrast to the efforts of more developed countries including that of nations like South Korea, Canada and Japan whose weak efforts could deny citizens more clean jobs, improved public health and energy security. The leaders of these countries stand to be on the wrong side of history as the transition to renewable energy progresses.
And while these countries showcased their commitment to climate mitigation, greater support was also signalled for adaptation measures this week, with G7 industrialised nations declaring up to 400 million more people in vulnerable developing countries would have “direct or indirect insurance coverage against the negative impact of climate change related hazards by 2020″. This was quickly followed by a White House commitment on new measures to help disaster-proof developing countries from extreme weather and sea level rise.The $34m initiative, which would bolster the climate defences of countries such as Bangladesh, Colombia and Ethiopia, was part of what White House officials describe as a “steady drumbeat” of announcements and events ahead of critical climate change talks in Paris at the end of the year.
From Bonn, governments will take their work forward in a series of high-level meetings before returning to Germany in late August, where the Pressure is now on them to “hit the accelerator” and “make the necessary, bold decisions in the coming months that will ensure historic international action on climate change”. They’ll do so with an increasingly clear choice hanging over them: listen to the growing calls for climate action – coming from millions of businesses, major investors, faith groups, youth networks, trade unions, and frontline communities – or end up on the wrong side of history. The Pope is due to present his climate encyclical next week, joining other faith leaders and in highlighting the moral imperative of climate action. Pressure on governments will only grow as leading health publication The Lancet launches a definitive report on the impacts of fossil fuels and and climate change on public health the week after. The message coming out of Bonn is is clear: “The transition to a low carbon world is speeding up. Countries can either ride that wave or be washed away by it.”
Look out for focused blogs on issues and developments in the negotiations by our Climate Trackers in Bonn here.
In addition to our Daily Tck (which is also available in Spanish), we’ll keep you abreast of developments in the wider world of climate activism and action at tcktcktck.org and publish related communications briefs at treealerts.org.