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UN climate talks in Geneva end with draft global agreement

The Daily Tck: A daily dispatch from the GCCA team at the UN climate talks in Geneva. Sign up to have them delivered to your inbox during the climate talks.

UN climate talks in Geneva

Creative Commons: Jean-Marc Ferré, 2011

  • Governments are making progress toward a new global climate agreement, and it’s on track to include a plan to completely phase out fossil fuel emissions.
  • More and more people are expecting governments to make their communities resilient to climate impacts and to scale up the transition to 100% renewable energy.
  • Building on the spirit of Geneva over the coming months, all governments are now due to present national action plans towards the Paris agreement.

The UN Climate Talks in Geneva are done, having kicked off a busy year of negotiations toward a new global climate agreement with the creation of a draft negotiating text to serve as a basis for work in the months ahead. We’ll use this edition of the Daily Tck to summarize the outcomes of the Geneva session and what it means for our work going forward using our partners’ own words. According Jennifer Morgan from WRI, “The 2015 climate negotiations are off to a promising start after a productive week in Geneva. The co-chairs used this session to get all ideas on the table, successfully building trust and priming the negotiations for success throughout this critical year.”

A plan to completely phase out fossil fuel emissions features prominently in the text, thanks to a growing number of governments now backing this long-term goal. The draft agreement also includes important language on health benefits of climate action, a just transition of the workforce, safeguarding human rights and intergenerational justice, and some strong options for growing the resilience of developing countries in the face of climate extremes. Given that the emerging Paris agreement won’t take effect before 2020, civil society groups also used Geneva to push governments into short-term action, using this decade to seriously ramp up their efforts towards the long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuel emissions.

Reflecting on the meeting as a whole, many of our partners emphasized the challenges ahead. According to Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists, “There remain deep and long-standing divisions on key issues – among them, which countries are more obligated than others to take action to reduce emissions; how and by how much to ramp up climate finance; and how to give greater priority to action on adaptation and loss and damage.” Progress on these issues is essential for ensuring the most ambitious options contained in the draft text are secured in the final agreement, when negotiations wrap in Paris this December.

Governments will need to build momentum throughout the year outside of the climate talks as well.  According to Tasneem Essop from WWF, “There are important political moments outside of the UN climate negotiation process – at both ministerial and Heads of State level – on the road to Paris where they can demonstrate their intentions, such as the G7, the G20 meetings, and the SDG Summit. Globally, civil society is already mobilizing citizens to demand political leaders act decisively in tackling what is being called the greatest challenge of our times.”

We saw a powerful example of that mobilization today. According to Jamie Henn from350.org. “As the talks here in Geneva come to a close, people around the world are taking part in Global Divestment Day, a worldwide effort to move money out of the fossil fuel industry and into a clean energy future. That’s what these negotiations need to do, as well: send a clear signal to investors that the age of fossil fuels is coming to an end.”

Building on the spirit of Geneva over the coming months, all governments are now due to present national action plans towards the new global climate agreement. These commitments will mark the world’s first collective step away from fossil fuels and towards more renewable energy.  Action plans from industrialized countries are also expected to help make the global fight against climate change more fair, by including support for developing countries to make the shift in energy choices and grow their resilience in the face of threats and damage from climate impacts. With the Geneva outcome serving as a strong foundation for success in Paris, the national action plans put forward by all governments can become the building blocks of an ambitious deal.

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