World takes steps towards global climate deal

global climate deal

The Bonn climate talks ended with some progress made towards the 2015 global climate treaty. Creative Commons: UNFCCC, 2014

After two weeks of negotiations, governments made tentative but positive progress towards a 2015 climate deal, which will bind all nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

NGOs welcomed the steps taken towards a new text on how to slash global emissions, but warned that negotiators must now move up a gear and get a concrete text down on paper before the next session of UN climate talks in October if a final climate deal is to be achieved in Paris in 2015.

Tasneem Essop, WWF’s Head of Delegation to the UNFCCC said:

Nelson Mandela once said, ‘it always seems impossible, until it’s done.’ So our message to governments here is that we have hard work ahead of us. We have to see the constructive spirit of these discussions translate into real political momentum. We have to keep our focus on the pre-2020 period, and close the growing gap between the actions countries have committed to and what the science tells us we need. We have to build on the momentum we saw here in Bonn if we are so have a successful outcome in Lima.

Countries have agreed to further flesh out the content of 2015 agreement by the next session in October where negotiations must kick up a gear in order to stay on track.

The co-chairs of the negotiations on the Paris agreement said they would issue a new informal text by July 15.

Increasing momentum towards an international climate agreement is being matched with good news from individual countries.

Three of the big emitters, China, the US and the EU, signaled plans to submit concrete proposals on their national contributions: the EU by late this year; the US by early next year; and China by June at the very latest.

More than 60 nations also supported the idea of phasing out dirty fossil fuels and replacing them with 100% renewable energy sources, in line with what the NGO and scientific community are calling for.

Martin Kaiser, Head of International Climate Politics at Greenpeace said:

It’s a real breakthrough that almost one third of the world’s governments acknowledge that we have to switch from fossil fuels to clean energy in the space of one human generation. Governments can and must now act at the national and international level to make the big transformation happen and to switch to clean energy from sun and wind.

This will increasingly leave laggards like Australia and Canada behind, as they continue to do their best to delay progress and protect their fossil fuel interests.

And all governments in Bonn backed a suggestion for their positions on emissions cuts, adaptation, climate finance and more to be summarised in a single document.

This will speed up process for the next UN climate meeting in October, and amounts to a slow drumbeat building momentum towards an international climate agreement in Paris next year.

Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists Director of Strategy and Policy said:

The good news is that countries put forward more details on their visions for the Paris climate agreement here in Bonn. But there remain sharp disagreements on the shape and scope of that agreement. The challenge for negotiators at the next ADP meeting in October will be to narrow those differences wherever possible, so that ministers can grapple with the key political issues when they arrive in Lima for the climate summit this December.

Lord Stern, the authoritative climate economist, today highlighted the importance of greater momentum.

In new peer-reviewed research, he underlines the need for urgent and drastic climate action, an end to the increase in coal as an energy source and warns that financial damage from global warming will be much greater than currently predicted.

In recent weeks, leading emitters, such as the US and China, gave strong political signals on climate action.

Further, reports by REN21 and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) show that all forms of renewable energy are making positive strides globally.

But these reports make it equally clear that governments need to commit to “bold” policies, significant investment and stable policy frameworks if the world is to meet its renewables potential.

The UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York in September will be the key moment for heads of government to put their money where their mouth is and commit to phasing out fossil fuels at a national and a global level.

Mohamed Adow , Christian Aid Senior Climate Change Advisor said:

Negotiators did their job here in Bonn, but now ministers and heads of state need to address the elephant in the room; the lack of climate finance. Without finance on the table before Paris it’s hard to see how we can avoid a stalemate,which puts a deal in danger. The Green Climate Fund has just opened for business, it’s time for developed countries to put some money in it. We need leaders to show up at the Ban Ki-moon climate summit in September with their cheque books open and emission reduction pledges on the table.

According to NGOs, leaders should go home from this meeting promising to come forward with concrete climate action commitments by the end of  March 2015.

This will mean that when they meet in Paris for a final deal at the end of 2015, the proposals on the table will be ambitious enough to ensure the roll out of renewable energy and other sustainable solutions worldwide, as well as help poorer countries take climate action.

Video: Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists breaks down the UN climate talks in Bonn:

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