Successful UN talks at Bonn pave path to Paris 2015

16 June 2014

LONDON: Elements of a draft treaty on international climate action are expected to be released next month as a result of the latest UN climate negotiations held in Bonn, Germany over the past two weeks.

Government negotiators expressed their commitment to tackle rising greenhouse gas emissions, and called for an initial draft treaty to be made available in advance of the next round of talks in October.

Presentation of a draft would mark an important step towards realizing an ambitious outcome at the 21st UN climate conference in Paris in 2015. This meeting is the deadline for agreeing a new global climate treaty, which would come into force from 2020.

Kishan Kumarsingh and Artur Runge-Metzger, the Co-Chairs of the Working Group responsible for constructing the 2015 agreement committed to deliver the elements of the draft treaty within weeks.

“We are determined to ensure we make these available in July towards a comprehensive new treaty in 2015 that will protect the planet and its people from dangerous climate change, the pair affirmed in a joint statement.

LOW CARBON LEADERSHIP

A focus of the Bonn meeting were discussions on urbanization and land use as pathways to demonstrate pre-2020 ambition. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that land use, including deforestation, currently accounts for just under a quarter of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, and hence represents a key area to be addressed.

Delegates heard of examples of low carbon leadership such as by the city of Malmö, Sweden which has adopted policies to be carbon neutral by 2020, with a target of 100% renewable energy by 2030. Similarly, Brazil highlighted how it has reduced deforestation by 80% since 2006 and is the first developing country to submit forestry emissions data to the UN.

These discussions helped ensure a positive atmosphere for talks on the new international framework and built on similar presentations on renewable energy and energy efficiency at the last meeting of negotiators in March.  

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognized this optimism when commenting on the two weeks’ work: “An increasing number of governments spoke of the growing understanding that Paris 2015 needs to be a turning point where decisive and defining pathways are put in place towards not only a low carbon but ultimately carbon neutral world.”

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

However, the Secretary General stressed success in Paris was conditional on international cooperation now, and emphasized that governments must provide financial support to the newly established Green Climate Fund. Developed countries pledged to “mobilize” US$100 billion per year for this fund by 2020 in order to finance low carbon activities aimed at mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.

Other news from Bonn was the ratification by China and Norway of the extension to the Kyoto Protocol. Known as the ‘Doha Amendment’, the extension sets binding emission reduction targets  for developed countries through to 2020. The extension will enter into force if a further 133 countries complete the ratification process. The extension, however, will cover less than 15% of global emissions, since targets do not apply to developing countries (including China), while the US, Canada and Japan have refused to be bound. 

The June Bonn meeting represents just one meeting in a series leading up to next annual UN climate summit in Lima, Peru in December. In September, the UN Secretary-General will host a Climate Summit in New York, which takes place during Climate Week NYC, which will be followed by another Bonn meeting in October and a ‘social pre-COP’ in Venezuela in November.

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By Alana Ryan

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