High noon in June as G7 and UNFCCC meet


Creative Commons: UN Climate Talks, 2014

Midway through this vital year for climate action things are heating up as governments prepare to meet in Bonn and Bavaria to further build momentum for a universal climate agreement and a transition away from dirty fossil fuels to a 100% renewable energy future.

In Bonn this week, negotiators are expected to find common ground on outstanding issues as they attempt to whittle-down the bulky 90-page draft agreement ahead of sign-off in Paris this December.

Removing duplication and fleshing out ideas for how the new regime could deal with key issues such as how countries with changing circumstances are treated fairly, will be key, while further understanding on which elements will form part of the agreement, which will go into a complementary COP decision, and which will be parked until after Paris is also likely to be a key – if tacit – outcome of the Bonn conference.

Work is also expected on the architecture and tools that will enable government action plans to be regularly reviewed and scaled-up in line with a fossil fuel phase out, as well as ensuring countries and communities are able to build resilience and that vulnerable countries are given the support needed to take action.

As anticipated, national climate plans so far submitted by countries such as Canada, the EU, the US and others move us closer to, but not all the way to, a safe climate, so the new agreement will have to set forth a clear pathway to putting the world on the trajectory towards keeping warming below the internationally agreed danger threshold of 2C, or the 1.5C limit demanded by vulnerable countries.

Key for developing countries in Bonn will be ensuring the agreement provides adequate support for them to manage climate risks and to empower them to develop sustainably.

This support needs to include money and technological capacity: to reduce emissions, to build resilient communities and to prepare for the climate impacts that will leave lasting damages.

Finance to make all this happen will be the subject of key reports in coming months from both the German and French governments who are exploring how countries can meet their 2009 commitment to deliver $100 billion in climate finance a year by 2020.

In the middle of the Bonn session, leaders of the major economies joining a G7 meeting in southern Germany are expected to send a signal that they are preparing for such an agreement.

The long-term goal for a swift transition from dirty to clean energy and ways to mobilize the hundreds of billions needed in climate finance are high on their agenda, and there is a chance that G7 leaders will also discuss a near-term phase-out of dirty coal power.

Outside of conference halls and government meetings, real world momentum is also building for climate action.

This weekend, people from all walks of life took to the streets in cities around the world in the latest public call for solutions to the world’s greatest problems – climate change, poverty, inequality and unemployment.

They join a host of voices from business leaders, major investors, faith groups, youth networks, trade unions, and frontline communities calling for climate action.

Last week, businesses and investors, representing some of the biggest companies in the global economy, met in Paris where they too endorsed a phase-out of fossil fuel emissions, and called on governments to fulfill their pledge to provide $100 billion a year for action by 2020.

Meanwhile, this week 120 investors with $12 trillion of investments urged G7 finance ministers to support a strong Paris agreement.

Banks, pension and investment funds, churches, hospitals and universities are already getting ahead of the curve and pulling their money out of fossil fuels, including Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, the biggest fund in the world, which is on track to become the biggest win to date for the global divestment movement as it looks set to abandon as much as $5.5 billion worth of coal holdings.

In June, the Pope is expected to join the call, as he releases his long-awaited encyclical highlighting the moral imperative of climate action, while world’s leading health publication, the Lancet, will release a definitive report on the devastating impact fossil fuel pollution and climate change have on public health and voice their own call for action.

Collectively they are raising the pitch of the global chorus calling for the just transition away from a world hooked on fossil fuels, to one powered by 100% renewable energy.

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