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Daily Tck: Day three of the UN climate talks in Bonn

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

UN climate talks - Zero carbon

Young people at the UN climate talks in Bonn call for a future free from fossil fuels

  • Slow progress on substance spurs concern among negotiators across the board
  • Major new reports underscore need for immediate increases in climate action and pave the way for zero emissions by mid-century
  • It’s been a good week for the divestment movement
  • Latest satellite images show new deforestation hotspots popping up in Southeast Asia, South America and Madagascar

Negotiators ended their Wednesday with a stocktake of the progress made thus far; agreeing that their pace is frustratingly slow. Resistance to increasing pressure and urgency is like a superpower for government delegates, and they were quick to blame the process’ facilitators. But Switzerland held up a mirror, asking negotiators to reflect on their own actions: “We should blame ourselves as we have wasted time arguing over process and not substance.”

We entered the week hoping that progress on substance made during high-level meetings in recent months might help speed progress in formal negotiations. Little, if any, is reflected in latest drafts of the text; but we are hearing positive signals in hallway conversations and interventions made by parties. For example:

  • On Loss & Damage, efforts to block or slow progress by the US, Australia and EU, are softening. Years of advocacy, including intense lobbying and actions by the climate movement during this session, are starting to pay off.

  • The idea of a long-term goal for mitigation is gaining traction. An action in the hallsWednesday reminded parties that we’re demanding zero emissions and a total phaseout of fossil fuels by 2050. AOSIS has strengthened its position on the issue. Norway appears to be leading the charge of countries seeking compromise text. And rumors are stirring that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will pick up the issue after Bonn, with the hope of repeating her successful partnership with Brazil in India later this month.

  • A long-term goal for adaptation is another important piece of the Paris puzzle. We’re hearing that the AILAC, EU and AOSIS blocs are making progress toward a common vision. Together, they could mount a powerful effort to secure a global adaptation goal bold enough to address the massive scale of the challenges that lay ahead.

These are just tiny green shoots in a whole field of essential parts to the Paris package; most of which, at least from the surface, are still struggling to take root. At risk of pushing the green shoots analogy too far, the Climate Action Tracker’s latest analysis shows that green thumbs among governments are exceedingly rare. The consortium of four research organizations has reviewed 15 of the 29 national climate action plans submitted to date – rating seven as “inadequate,” six “medium” and only two as “sufficient.”

“It is clear that if the Paris meeting locks in present climate commitments for 2030, holding warming below 2˚C could essentially become infeasible, and 1.5˚C  beyond reach. Given the present level of pledged climate action, commitments should only be made until 2025,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics.

The group’s analysis also makes it clear that countries should scale up climate action immediately, while ensuring the Paris agreement includes a mechanism that increases the ambition of climate action plans in regular cycles. Furthermore, the analysis puts pressure on the next ten highest emitters who are yet to submit their climate action plans, including: India, Brazil, Iran, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Pakistan, together accounting for 18% of global emissions.

News, links & useful grist that caught our eye

Track 0 and Centre for Alternative Technology just released a report on how different actors at national, regional and city levels are already working out how to develop and decarbonize. The report draws on results from over 100 scenarios that demonstrate how we can reach low or zero emissions before the second half of the century with existing technology, without harming social or economic development.

A new report measuring the potential health cost savings of increased renewable energy and efficiency programs shows that several US cities could save between US$5.7 million and $210 million annually. The significant value of health co-benefits from climate action is increasingly clear.

In the latest signs that investors do not want their money funding the drivers of climate change, twenty-five institutions with assets worth over €61 billion have called on nine multinational companies to cut their ties with EU trade groups known for their “obstructive lobbying” on climate issues. And the National Australia Bank is now the 14th financial institution to rule out any investment in the massive (and now beleaguered) Carmichael coal mine, putting pressure on others to follow suit.

Pressure on the fossil fuel industry is only going to increase. A fresh stock of inspired divestment campaigners wrapped a major conference in Paris Tuesday, ready to launch new campaigns across Europe. California Divestment activists scored a massive victory Wednesday, winning a crucial vote that puts them one step away from making California the first US state to legislate divestment.

Meanwhile, the Dutch government raised eyebrows in Bonn and beyond, for trying to move in the opposite direction. The country’s environment ministry announced plans to appeal a landmark court decision ordering the government to cut emissions faster than currently planned. The Netherlands used record amounts of coal in the first five months of this year.

For those of you who think solving climate change would be easier if we could target individuals instead of whole country’s, a new study points out that not only do executives of the 30 largest fossil fuel companies make more than comparable CEOs, the system of buybacks, stock compensation, and bonus incentives all push company leadership to double down on carbon-heavy practices. This man made US$21 million last year by ignoring climate change.

Climate action isn’t just about energy. Global Forest Watch released high-resolution satellite maps today, showing new deforestation hotspots appeared in Southeast Asia’s Mekong Basin, South America’s Gran Chaco region and Madagascar.

Resources

Our friends at the Climate Action Network International are publishing daily ECO newsletters laying out their case to negotiators.

IISD’s reporting service has high-resolution pictures from Day 3 inside the World Conference Center, and more to come throughout the next two weeks. They also have a detailed overview ofTuesday’s negotiations.

We shared the wrong link to Climate-Justice.Info’s Storify, tracking the negotiations as they happen. Here’s the correct version to get you to the latest.

We have a small team of Climate Trackers in Bonn, blogging at adoptanegotiator.org and writing for a few newspapers around the world. Check out their work in EnglishSpanish and German.

Useful hashtags for tracking the negotiations in real-time are #ADP2, #UNFCCC and #COP21.  We’ll join the conversation on twitter via @tcktcktck.

We’ll also keep you abreast of developments in the wider world of climate activism and action at tcktcktck.org and treealerts.org.

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