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This might be the last time we hear of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 degrees, as the item might be dropped before arriving at COP25.
The Bonn Intersessional, the smaller meeting held annually between the COPs, just started in Bonn, Germany. This is the first climate negotiation after COP24. Now, all parties have to pick up all open issues that had not been agreed in Katowice.
Called the “smaller COP” passing under the radar with a low presence of journalists, this seems the best scene for a murder as no witnesses are around. The murder of the IPCC Report could therefore lead to a Paris Agreement without science included.

The technology and science body of this negotiations, called SBSTA, is required to renew the discussion of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C of Global Warming here in Bonn,  which parties failed to agree upon in Poland. Since December 2018, the environmental global movement have grown stronger, the 1.5°C has been largely discussed and addressed and the scientific community has extensively argumented the necessity to shift towards policies aiming at being more ambitious.
However, yesterday’s consultations with the countries seemed to have found the solution on how to sort out the issue: deleting once and for all the discussion. Which it is possible, according to the treaties.

The Raise and Decline of the IPPC Special Report

At COP24 in Poland, countries agreed that the item in the agenda that considers the IPCC report would be discussed in this June 2019, since they were unable to reach an agreement, making headlines worldwide. Regardless of what the Katowice document says, the dicussions under SBSTA were agreed to continue in 2019, and that is where we are today. Basically, last year Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia and Kuwait created the axis of evil to water down any discussions related to the latest climate science, by proposing to weaken drastically the language.

Language in treaties and decisions is never left to the case: there is a big difference between “welcoming” or “noting” the report. In the end, the Katowice agreement from last year only “welcomes the timely completion” of the report. There is nothing better than punctual scientists.Regardless of what the Katowice document says, the dicussions under SBSTA were agreed to continue in 2019, and that is where we are today. This time countries are picking the thinness of language by analyzing the word “consider”.

Should we consider the report? What does consider means after all? For some countries consideration means anything but to keep discussing this at COP in December. For some other “consider” has a positive connotation: we might need to look into it. But as there is no bind or obligation, consideration of the report might just be a formality.

This what seems to hint the opinion of  the Umbrella Group negotiating group, which includes big developed economies such as the United States and Russia. In yesterday’s meeting countries already openly welcomed the possibility that if no agreement would be reached in discussing how to include this latest science, the option to pursue would be a procedural agreement to close the discussion.

Many groups asked for the UNFCCC rules of procedure 16 to not apply, which would mean the automatic inclusion of the item in the next agenda – meaning COP – if parties might not convene to an agreement.
Countries knows regulations very well.
What can be a climate agreement  that does not include science on found its basis on scientific proof?
What are the implications of deleting science from the Paris Agreement? It is recurrently discussed that the focus of the Bonn Climate Change Conference and future climate conferences should be to increasing ambition. How to do so when science supporting such ambitions is cancelled? And what are the implications on future reports?

The Chilean representation is already calling its future COP25 the Blue COP, as it should focus on protecting oceans. At the same time in early September the IPCC will release its new Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere. But as countries avoid to take reports into consideration, it might be just useless.

 

Daniela De Lorenzo

About Daniela De Lorenzo