From COP to COP into climate collapse

The Talanoa Dialogue, initiated during the COP23 in Bonn in 2017, is meant to lead to better results in climate negotiations. [EPA-EFE/PHILIPP GUELLAND]

Climate conferences see a lot of talk, some agreements are reached but little is implemented. Seemingly, the world slides from conference to conference directly into climate collapse. However, with COP24, changes are to come. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Climate experts are increasingly calling for more efforts to be made in ever shorter periods of time if the collapse it to be prevented. The global benchmark was the 1.5-degree target of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Non-governmental organisations, however, consistently complain about the lack of consequences for national governments.

“We signed the Paris Agreement two and a half years ago and agreed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. But we see nothing of the massive transformation and increased action that would be needed to reach the goal,” Teresa Anderson of UK Action Aid NGO told EURACTIV.

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At a conference of the UN Climate Secretariat, which took place in Bonn in the past two weeks, a new format is said to yield better results: Talanoa. By telling stories and the obligation to listen to them, the abandonment of tables and other atmospheric tricks, trust and understanding should be built.

In Bonn, the main issue at stake was the so-called rulebook, a binding set of rules to be adopted in December – to make the commitments clearer and, in future, make more convergent acts follow the benevolent words at the conferences.

The Talanoa format met with much approval.

The dialogue “has been successful in breaking down barriers between different stakeholders. In an environment of trust and openness, it was clear that voluntariness binds us all together. It was evident that the current national concessions are absolutely inadequate. The Talanoa Dialogue lays the foundations for the political discussions needed for an ambitious outcome of the COP24 conference,” Juan Pablo Osornio of Greenpeace International told EURACTIV following the dialogue.

Of course, scepticism remains as to whether the positive and inspiring feeling can actually be translated into political practice.

The success of the format cannot be measured by the fact that the participants had a pleasant afternoon. Only when the national climate plans have actually been visibly and measurably upgraded by 2020 and the necessary money has been made available for the agreed measures, can one speak of success.

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The Polish COP24 President, Michal Kurtyka, has voiced high ambitions: “It is now time to take the next steps in the preparation for the Talanoa Dialogue in the political phase of COP24,” he said.

In other words, the dialogue launched by the COP23 Presidency of the Fiji Islands will be continued at the next conference. This would fulfil an important requirement of many civil society organisations, which for the first time see themselves adequately involved in the new format.

Many participants were also satisfied with the progress on the rulebook, noting that good progress has been made but there is still much to do. In particular, on stocktaking and evaluation of the national actions of the past five years, wide-ranging agreements had been reached. Those analyses are meant as a basis to trigger new, more ambitious actions.

“The progress in the technical negotiations on the rulebook is, generally speaking, in line with the expectations. What became clear, however, is that poorer countries need much stronger signals that the promised funding will actually flow to implement their emission reduction plans,” said Mohamed Adow, who is in charge of climate issues at Christian Aid, emphasising the importance of more liability.

New round of climate negotiations in Bonn

The Bonn Climate Change Conference is meeting from 30 April to 10 May in preparation for COP24 in Katowice (Poland). During the Bonn Conference, the two key subjects will be: increasing countries’ climate ambitions and actions and drafting the operating manual for the Paris Agreement. EURACTIV’s partner le Journal de l’Environnement reports.

With regard to the further process, Gino Van Begin, secretary general of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) said: “It is crucial that the nations in Bangkok make substantial progress and deliver a robust and inclusive rulebook at the COP24 Katowice conference, with which the goals of the Paris Agreement can be reached.”

Bangkok, Katowice – these are the next stops in global climate diplomacy.

In Bangkok, the next round of negotiations will take place in September, ahead of COP24. This, in turn, will take place in December in Katowice, Poland. Then the rules have to be decided. After that, we might know better if the confidence was justified after the Bonn conference, or whether Talanoa merely provides for a better mood on the way to collapse.

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