What can be said about latest round of UN climate negotiations, which wrapped-up in Bonn Friday?
In some ways, the outcome wasn't much of an outcome at all. Negotiators merely took note of what progress was made; knowing discussion on many of the same issues would continue when they meet again in Bonn in just a few weeks time. However, the rare focus on a single track of negotiations (as opposed to multiple tracks going on at once) seems to have allowed countries to hold more productive conversations about the issues at hand without getting stymied by how various pieces will fit together.
So what of that progress? There was definitely a positive change in tone. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres described an increasing 'convergence
' around opportunities for short-term ambition. The EU pushed a phase-out HFCs
under the Montreal Protocol. There was mention of the importance of regulating airline emissions through the ICAO negotiations taking place this year; and suggestions that efforts to act on longstanding commitments to phase-out fossil-fuel subsidies could be part of the work done at this year's COP in Warsaw. AOSIS put forward a hopeful proposal
on how developed countries might structure a process to raise ambition in the coming months, including a ministerial meeting on renewable energy and energy efficiency. All of this links with parallel discussions going on in different fora - ICAO
, the Major Economies Forum
, and so on - we hope it builds political momentum and leads to concrete action.
On the 2015 deal, countries began serious talk about what the agreement might look like. Negotiators began to tackle the idea of equity properly. And there was more 'convergence' around the ideas that any future system will have to be dynamic enough to change as the science and national circumstances change. A more troubling discussion came around the trade-offs between ambition versus participation and top-down versus bottom-up. Many of our partners are rightly worried about the idea that in order to keep all countries in the agreement, especially the US, ambition needs to be kept low and pledges nationally determined.
The reality is we need to ramp up ambition through equity, this will increase participation. CAN called on Parties to adopt an "Equity Review" with which to assess pledges. As Christian Aid's Mohammed Adow said, the key point is that, when producing their pledges to reduce carbon emissions at a national level, countries should be fully aware that their promises will be evaluated not only against the science, but the Convention’s equity principles as well.’
CAN summed it up in their press conference
Friday, "Delegates have to move to a more concrete way of working. Especially on short term ambition, which is in danger of becoming the poor cousin of the 2015 agreement – when in fact it is an essential precursor. There’s no way the political will for a 2015 agreement will be in place without clear evidence that countries have made progress on the short term ambition front."
"But politicians have to have a hard look at the science, have a hard look at what is best for their constituents, and a hard look in the mirror – and come to Warsaw with finance pledges; a willingness to work together on renewable energy and energy efficiency; agree to reduce aviation emissions in the ICAO; to phase out F gases in the Montreal Protocol; and that 2014 is going to be the year of increased short term ambition."
Negotiators gather again in June to continue discussions at the Bonn Intersessional. In the meantime 35 invited Ministers will gather next week at the 4th Petersberg Summit co-hosted by Germany and Polish Environment Ministers. Angela Merkel will open the Summit and you can catch her remarks live by webcast at 9:30 CET this Monday. Details can be found at Petersberg Climate Dialogue