October 23, 2015

Despite Uneven Progress in Bonn, A Strong Paris Climate Agreement Is Still Achievable

Statement by Alden Meyer on the Outcome of Bonn Climate Talks

BONN (October 23, 2015)—A week of intense climate change negotiations aimed at further refining the draft negotiating text for a comprehensive climate agreement—in advance of the Paris Climate Summit this December—concluded today in Bonn, Germany. Below is a statement by Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), who has been an active observer at the international climate change negotiations since they started in 1990.  

“From floods and droughts to hurricanes, typhoons and heat waves, the impacts of climate change are increasingly evident worldwide. To limit these impacts, we need a strong, science-based agreement in Paris that sets the world on a path to fully phase out fossil fuel emissions by mid-century and builds a global economy based on clean, renewable energy sources. Additionally, the agreement must not only substantially increase climate finance for both mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries, but also help vulnerable communities deal with the climate impacts they will continue to experience in the years ahead.

“There was substantial progress on some issues in Bonn this week, such as transparency and national emission reduction progress reporting. On other issues, including how to create a mechanism that will ratchet up national commitments over time to achieve the reductions needed to keep global temperature increases well below two degrees Celsius, there is greater clarity regarding the options on the table. For some of the toughest issues, such as ramping up climate finance for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, as well as helping vulnerable countries cope with increasingly severe climate change impacts, little or no progress was made.

“On this last set of issues, finding compromises will require ministers and national leaders to more fully engage in the process; fortunately, they will have several opportunities to do so over the next month. These ministers and leaders must also ensure that the Paris agreement sends a clear signal to business, investors and the public that the shift from a global economy based on polluting fossil fuels to one powered entirely by clean, renewable energy sources is not only underway but is irreversible.

“Momentum continues to build for a comprehensive climate agreement in Paris. Over 150 countries have submitted their post-2020 climate commitments, while mayors and governors, progressive businesses, faith and labor leaders, and citizens around the world are all demanding a fair and ambitious outcome in Paris.  Now it’s time for leaders, ministers and negotiators alike to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.”