Against a backdrop of real world momentum for climate action, the latest round of UN climate talks wrapped up today in Bonn, delivering some progress on the road to a meaningful climate deal in Paris but with widespread demands for negotiators to “pick up the pace” in the coming months.
A historic announcement from the G7, 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 German Chancellor Angela Merkel understand what’s at stake in Paris.
Yet with the Bonn negotiations criticised for “moving too slow” and for failing to get into the substance of a Paris agreement, these external realities are yet to penetrate the plenaries, and some countries are yet to harness these growing signals from the outside world.
Martin Kaiser, head of international climate politics, Greenpeace said:
The Luddites of climate action in the coal and oil industry should take note of the signals coming from G7 and progressive business leaders. The negotiators in Bonn should take note too, and make more rapid progress in the upcoming formal and informal meetings. The Paris climate protocol should accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels, building in new commitments from major emitting countries every five years, so that we can achieve the vision of 100% renewable energy by 2050.
Some progress was seen over the last two weeks, with governments delivering steps towards more ambitious and immediate emissions cuts over the next five years – a key element of the Paris package.
But there is still plenty of room for more progress. Jaco du Toit, climate change officer, WWF said:
The reality is that we need much faster progress on the post-2020 negotiations, that we need to ramp up what we are doing already, that we cannot ignore that impacts are already hitting people everywhere, and that the solutions, from falling renewable energy prices to low carbon transport are out there, waiting to be scaled up.
Governments also produced a breakthrough on the UN-backed forest protection scheme, REDD+.
Niranjali M. Amerasinghe, director, climate & energy program, Center for International Environmental Law said:
The conclusion of the work program on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation provides a little more clarity on safeguards reporting and the importance of promoting the multiple benefits that forests provide, but it is minimal. Now all eyes are on finance and implementation, and we will have to be vigilant in tracking whether safeguards are actually respected on the ground.
They also reorganised and streamlined the draft negotiating text, and gave a “green light” for the co-chairs of the negotiations to produce an even more compact version ahead of the next round of talks in August.
Christian Aid’s Senior Climate Change Advisor, Mohamed Adow said:
The text which will make up the Paris agreement is like a lens we’re all looking through to a safe and secure world. At the moment it’s a bit grubby and hard to see through. The co-chairs of the negotiations on the Paris agreement need to go away and give it a good clean so that leaders can see what needs to be done.
This will allow negotiators to get straight to the “crunch issues” when they meet again, such as “ensuring that the Paris deal is funded, that it protects vulnerable communities and it has a mechanism to increase ambition over time”.
Pressure is now on governments to “make more rapid progress” and “make the necessary, bold decisions in the coming months that will ensure historic international action on climate change”.
Jan Kowalzig, climate change policy adviser, Oxfam said:
Upcoming events like the Financing for Development meeting in Addis, the UN General Assembly in New York or the G20 in Turkey offer the perfect opportunity for high level political signals to be sent. Political leaders need to give a clear steer on how to address the inadequacy of current emissions reductions pledges, but also on the urgent financial support needed for the most vulnerable countries and populations.
With business leaders, major investors, faith groups, youth networks, trade unions, and frontline communities all adding to the momentum demanding and driving the transition away from fossil fuels and towards a future powered by renewables, the message to governments is clear: “The transition to a low carbon world is speeding up. Countries can either ride that wave or be washed away by it.“