Countries who were meeting in the German city, Bonn, this week have started fleshing out how a new universal agreement on climate change might look by the deadline of Paris 2015 as part of worldwide efforts to keep a global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius this century.
According to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, this week’s meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) marked the start of an intense year with a calendar of meetings.
In late 2014, countries are scheduled to meet in Lima, Peru, with the aim of having a draft universal agreement on the table to be finalized in 2015. The new agreement is to enter into force in 2020.
“We are now entering a serious and significant phase in the evolution of international, cooperative climate policy as we look towards both Lima and Paris,” Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said Friday.
“The next nine months will require all nations to raise their eyes beyond business-as-usual in order to counter the threats and deliver the multiple opportunities from moving rapidly towards a cleaner, healthier, low carbon world,” she said.
The UN and other organizations this week briefed countries on the support they can provide, which will be further coordinated by the UNFCCC, including via an online portal.
As week-long negotiations ended Friday in Bonn, several nations and groups of nations known as Parties also outlined ideas, proposals and pathways towards raising domestic ambition and transitioning towards more low carbon economies, according to the UNFCCC.
“Bonn this week underlines how these outcomes and mandates from Warsaw are being taken forward by Parties with support from the UN system and others. It is a positive sign that nations have got down to business – and got down to business with focus and with enthusiasm – to start really shaping how that crucial agreement may look and operate,” added Figueres.
“By the end of the year, we should be able to see tangible results: new and strong national and international initiatives; Parties – especially developed countries – adopting new policies and taking on further actions; greater participation in innovative partnerships; and mobilization of the resources needed to make action happen,” Kishan Kumarsingh and Artur Runge-Metzger, the co-chairs of the ADP, this week framed the challenge:
Civil society observers at the Bonn meeting were, however, sceptical of progress made after a week of UN climate talks concluded.
A statement released at the end of the talks on Friday charged that the talks were supposed to conduct a technical examination of opportunities to reduce emissions in the energy sector prior to 2020, but it was unclear if governments would be acting on the recommendations.
'This week the UN climate talks began discussing some practical solutions to transform our energy systems and bring sustainable energy to the billions without. This is the chance for governments to act in the interests of people and the planet and support community-powered solutions to the climate crisis.
People from Europe through to Africa are fighting for community controlled sustainable energy systems. These governments need to commit to advancing these peoples' proposals rather than just paying lip service through ineffective talkshops,” Asad Rehman, Head of International Climate of Friends of the Earth EWNI, said.
Harjeet Singh, International Coordinator of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Adaptation at ActionAid, said it was concerning that rich industrialised nations continued to push a very narrow barrow in Bonn, talking about the future agreement as being only focused on emission cuts, adding that “it is obvious that people need a much more holistic approach if we are to keep people and our food systems safe.'
At the last UN Climate Change conference held in Warsaw, Poland, late last year, countries agreed to initiate or intensify domestic preparations for the intended, nationally-determined contributions to be included in the 2015 agreement.
The Warsaw conference also called for support from developed countries, organizations like the UN and bodies providing funding for that domestic process.