- As the final UN climate talks before the Paris summit close, pressure fuels progress on key issues
- Pared down text has a menu of options for Ministers and Heads of States to take forward in high-level meetings over the next five weeks
- By tackling the crunch issues, world leaders can unlock the door to a future powered by 100% renewables, with huge benefits for people and planet
This latest round of UN climate talks opened with a deadly typhoon bearing down on the Philippines, and closed with Hurricane Patricia, the most powerful tropical cyclone ever measured, barrelling toward Mexico’s Pacific coast. The country’s lead envoy, Roberto Dondisch, struggled to hold back his tears as he pleaded with fellow negotiators to “put aside your differences” and start compromising.
After five days of intense discussions, late nights and some drama, our partners leave Bonn having helped secure a text that is considerably stronger and more fair than what we started with a week ago. Negotiators spent the session adding ambition, clarity and specificity that many felt was lacking. And as a result, governments have a draft text they can take ownership of – crucial for keeping negotiations on track to an agreement.
Mitigation, adaptation and transparency are among the issues where our partners saw progress made. Spin-off groups and informal bridge-building meetings helped consolidate disparate positions, strengthening the options for a Paris agreement that could signal the end of the fossil fuel age and a rapid decarbonisation of the global economy.
Countries failed to find further common ground on loss & damage. Observers suggested the lack of progress could be due to negotiators reaching the end of their mandates, having arrived at a point where the issue is handed up to Ministers to address at a higher level of political engagement.
The most significant remaining divisions seem focused on climate finance. Developing country governments have called for wording that clearly establishes the responsibility of developed countries to achieve the goal of $100 billion in climate finance by 2020, and a plan to continually scale-up after 2020. Developed countries, on the other hand, have proposed finance language scant on details, with less exclusive focus on their responsibilities.
Over 150 countries have submitted their climate action plans, bending down the warming curve downward. Their individual and collective impacts offer the foundation for a global agreement and serve as an entry point for the low-carbon transition that a growing chorus of voices from all sectors demand.
New reports and data published during the week illustrated what combining national plans with the text’s most ambitious options could ultimately achieve. While the IEA analysed the pledges made so far, showing they would slow energy sector emissions growth dramatically, a report by IDDRI and PIK demonstrated that having countries increase their pledged ambition on climate change every five years, and setting a long-term decarbonisation goal, could bring global warming under the 2ºC danger threshold, and closer to the 1.5ºC limit needed to safeguard the future for the most vulnerable countries.
Polarized positions on key issues like climate finance and loss & damage mean ministers and Heads of State face difficult but essential work ahead as they seek out solutions during high-level meetings in coming weeks. The “Pre-COP” in France on 8-10 November, the G20 meeting in Turkey on 15 November, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta on28 November will offer opportunities for progress. Observers around the world are calling for ambition and fairness to be front and center in their discussions. Above all, financial support to help poorer countries take climate action and protect their people from climate impacts will remain key to reaching an agreement that can support and speed the ongoing transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy.
As politicians and government envoys continue to build bridges toward a meaningful climate agreement, publics around the world will turn out en masse to show support for the clean energy transition. Mobilisations, concerts, action days and more are planned for the next few weeks, peaking with major marches around the world on the eve of the Paris summit, and continuing through the end.
Our closing Tree Alert from Bonn includes links to analysis and press releases from our partners, quotes from experts and government officials, and much more
We supported a team of Climate Trackers in Bonn, who blogged were writing for newspapers around the world and blogging at adoptanegotiator.org. They put up a series of videos digging into the key issues Friday – well worth checking out.
IISD’s reporting service has high-resolution pictures from Day 5 inside the World Conference Center. They plan to publish analysis from this week’s session Monday.
We’ll also keep you abreast of developments in the wider world of climate activism and action attcktcktck.org.