October 25, 2014

Bonn Climate Talks Close While Much Work Remains To Achieve Paris Agreement

BONN (Oct. 25, 2014) - The third climate negotiating session this year concluded today in Bonn, Germany. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the meeting did not make the progress that was hoped for, leaving a very ambitious agenda for the Lima, Peru climate summit in December.

"Unfortunately, we're leaving Bonn with not much more clarity than when we arrived," said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists. "From floods and droughts to hurricanes, typhoons and heat waves, we are already suffering the consequences of our past inaction. We need to see much more rapid progress in Lima."

The major objective for the Bonn meeting was to identify the various elements that should be included in the post-2020 Paris agreement, and to decide what information countries must provide when they submit their proposed post-20ac20 contributions. These contributions have been coined by the U.N. "intended nationally-determined contributions," or INDCs for short. At last November's climate summit in Warsaw, Poland, countries agreed to submit their contributions by March, 2015, if the country is able to do so. With the deadline nearing, the INDC information decision must be made at the Lima climate summit.

While there is some agreement on what information will be required as part of countries' proposed contributions to reduce emissions, there are disagreements over how adaptation should be addressed in country INDCs. Many countries are also lobbying for the United States and other developed countries to include specific commitments on financial and technology support for developing countries' actions on mitigation and adaptation. Negotiators further disagree on whether and how to assess both the collective adequacy and the individual fairness of countries' contributions against the agreed goal of holding global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Meyer stated that the most essential element in addressing the climate crisis, both in these international negotiations and at the domestic level, is political will, and that this was lacking in Bonn.

"Countries must bring more to the table in Lima than the least common denominator, if they are to make progress in building the climate-friendly global economy that their citizens deserve and are increasingly demanding," said Meyer.

There continue to be sharp differences between countries on the scope of the Paris agreement. Most developed countries think it should focus largely on post-2020 actions to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases. However, developing countries believe the new agreement must also include significant requirements for the United States and other developed countries on climate finance, technology transfer and adaptation to the mounting impacts of climate change. The challenge now is how to distinguish those issues that ministers can resolve in Lima from issues where the differences are too great to resolve before the Paris climate summit in December, 2015.

"While it's disappointing that negotiators didn't make more progress in Bonn, it's by no means out of reach for countries to reach acceptable decision on these issues at the Lima climate summit in December," said Meyer.

Finally, negotiators also engaged in Bonn in a constructive dialogue on pre-2020 actions to curb climate change. The conversations that addressed reducing barriers to rapidly deploy climate-friendly renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and to reduce emissions from the forest and agriculture sectors were particularly promising.

"Real progress was made here this week on laying the groundwork for agreements in Lima on concrete ways to move this agenda forward," Meyer said. "That was the bright spot of this session."

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.