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08/12/2016

False start at Bonn climate conference

Climate & Environment

False start at Bonn climate conference

The climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

[Adopt A Negotiator/Flickr]

The first day of the final round of climate negotiations did not bring the expected results, as questions over finance threaten to derail the process. Journal de l’Environnement reports

Six weeks before the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21), the negotiators of the 195 UN member states met for the last time in Bonn on 19 October to hammer out a draft deal.

A 9-page pre-agreement

On 5 October, the two co-chairs of the ADP (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action) published a 9 page draft agreement, as well as several dozens of draft decisions that could be adopted at the COP 21.

The aim of the negotiators at the Bonn conference is to ratify this text, produced by the American Daniel Reifsnyder and the Algerian Ahmed Djoghlaf, whose status would then be elevated to ‘official negotiation; the final step before becoming the Paris ‘pre-agreement’.

“Faced with the lack of time and the shared feeling of urgency […], we call on all the Parties to accept the text as a starting point for the negotiation, in order to produce a draft agreement that can be finalised during the COP,” the ADP co-chairs stated.

No basis for negotiations

This will not be an easy task. Several members of the G77, a powerful group of developing countries with 134 members (including China), have complained that the text proposed by Daniel Reifsnyder and Ahmed Djoghlaf did not take their concerns into account. For them, this means it cannot be considered as a serious basis for the negotiations; after months of discussions, finance is still the major barrier to cooperation.

The Lima flop

At the general assembly of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank earlier this month in Lima, the wealthy countries of the global North were unable to prove that they would keep the promise they made at the 2009 COP in Copenhagen: to provide $100 billion of funding per year by 2020 to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change.

Even with the backing of development banks, the finance ministers of the “rich” countries could only commit to a sum of $77 billion within five years. For many developing countries, this is unacceptable.

Insufficient national contributions

Another stumbling block for the international negotiations is the disappointing level of ambition shown by developed countries in their national contributions (INDCs) to the COP 21.

A report published by a group of NGOs evaluated the INDCs of developed countries and compared them to their historic responsibility for climate change. It should come as no surprise that the commitments currently on the table do not even come close to cancelling out two centuries of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Russian contribution received the worst marks (it could even counteract other efforts to mitigate climate change), while the report’s authors said that Japan’s INDC represents only one tenth of the action required, and the efforts of the United States and the European Union should counterbalance about 20% of their emissions.

This will do little to ease the debate in Bonn.