Report on the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference, Intersessional, Bonn 16-26 May, 2016
1. What was the meeting about? The Intersessional is the first major meeting after most parties signed the Paris Agreement on April 22, 2016, and presented their pledges (NDCs). Now on everyone’s mind and on the agenda is to operationalize the Paris Agreement. At COP21 in Paris, parties requested different bodies to take different parts of the work program forward. The COP requested the ADA committee to prepare for entry into force of the Paris Agreement, and for the first CMA at COP22. More details of what is involved is found in the reflections document.
2. Where to find news on the meeting? The best places to look for information: IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin; UNFCCC site, and on Twitter search by #ParisAgreement #SB44 #APA1 (try other hashtags too).
3. Where to find my coverage: During this meeting, I am posting (from afar) on Facebook (WUSTL at COP) and on Twitter (follow me @anu_hittle), and summaries here on this page. Check back daily during the conference.
Conference Summary: UNFCCC Bonn Intersessional Meetings
The Bonn Climate Change meetings ended May 26, 2016. It was a typical slow start to the intersessional meeting that will lead up to the COP22 in November. Three main topics were on everyone’s mind, and much more was on the agenda. Early entry into force, finance, and pre-2020 ambition were dealt with during the two weeks. Other UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol business were also dealt with.
The first week for the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA1) was spent on procedural matters, and discussing the agenda. There were other firsts: APA1 was co-chaired by two women; for the first time Technical Expert Meetings convened on adaptation; non-state actors were called upon to participate, and their role was recognized in two high level appointments from COP21 and COP22 which will help facilitate participation for pre-2020 ambition.
COP22 will be the Action and Implementation COP, and some think it will be the Renewables COP. More accurate, perhaps is the use of the term “operationalize” when referring to this phase of the Paris Agreement—putting procedures in place so that governments and non-state parties can then implement the various goals.
Calls for 1.5 degrees were heard throughout the meetings, including in our question tweeted to Christiana Figueres, but all agree even the 2-degree goal will not be met with current pledges from parties. Figureres states in a press release summarizing the goals going forward: “The urgency now is to implement the Paris Agreement’s visionary pathways at a speed and scale that can deliver the next crucial steps; namely a swift peaking of global emissions, a climate neutral world in the second half of the century and the building of resilient countries and communities for every man, woman and child.”
For pathways forward, see this paper by the World Resources Institute.
May 16: Opening Day Summary
Aloha, Namaskar and Hello COPpers, and other greenies following the UNFCCC process!
As I watch and analyze the Bonn meetings from my Hawaiian post, here is a summary of my tweets from yesterday’s opening of the Bonn meeting:
- We have moved from negotiations to implementation or the “building” phase (Segolene Royal). There will be many different things to follow as we ramp up to Marrakech, unlike the one big ADP document that we all followed leading upto COP21/the Paris Agreement.
- The usual list of items was emphasized: Finance, technology, capacity. However, going forward, a relatively new issue has surfaced—that of MRV or Monitoring, Reporting and Verification. This has never been an issue before because we have never seen global commitments. For the first time, global commitments appear on the scene, and with that, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of country pledges (or NDCs). This will be a hot issue to watch in the coming months.
- Disappointed to find our RINGO observer group was not represented in the opening plenary.
- Civil society participation is always what we are pushing for—and have been since the process started in 1992. However, we still do not have simultaneous translation for webcasts outside of the Plenaries! Tragic! If global participation is encouraged via the web, this needs to be fixed.
- My question about achieving a 1.5 degree goal was picked up via Twitter and answered by Christiana Figureres herself!
May 17 highlights: Second day summary
While you can get all the details of the meetings (SBI, SBSTA and APA and plenaries) from IISD’s ENB, my main thoughts from May 17th are:
APA started its work. Co-chairs are from two nations whose NDCs have an “inadequate” scorecard with Climatetracker.org
Several items are on the APA’s agenda, primary one being Article 4 or the country pledges. For the agenda see here.
Thought for today: Implementation is on everyone’s minds, but what does it mean to implement the Paris Agreement? Negotiators are taking it to mean fleshing out the Paris Agreement, as per the four areas outlined here, and that is certainly within their “kuleana” (Hawaiian term for jurisdiction). In opening plenary on the first day, Segolene Royal said it was time to “build.” First, architects (aka, negotiators) by definition do not build; they design. Building is the job of governments, businesses and civil society. Second, we are far from where we can start building. We are still at the design phase. Watch APA closely in the coming days of the meeting.
May 18+19: Agenda fights, and the issue of “Fair Share”
UNFCCC head Christiana Figures said of the currently on-going two- week conference in Bonn “It’s going to be a very weird session.” “It’s going to be a lot of housekeeping and planning … not much of interest to the outside world.” Source: www.scientificamerican.com/article/negotiators-try-to-figure-out-what-the-paris-climate-agreement-means/
Indeed, there have been insider agenda tussles, and rumblings about what should be worked on during this meeting, the one in Marrakech later this year at COP22, and beyond. One might think: what’s the big deal about an agenda? This agenda will determine how and what work is carried out over the next several years to make the Paris Agreement operational. The main point of contention right now is that country pledges should include adaptation measures, not just mitigation measures.
In addition, there has been a lot of discussion by civil society organizations about “fair share” of mitigation reductions for EU and USA. Of note was the absence of any discussion about large developing country roles in this mitigation effort (such as China and India).
The “Fair share” argument needs to be accompanied by the concept of a “carbon club”. Otherwise, we will be stuck in our two-decade long impasse—historical v. current emitters (total v. per capita emissions). It is reasonable to have a “fair share” for developed countries, who must take responsibility for what they did; and a “carbon club” for countries that are curentlyemitting large totals, and whose trajectories will blow the global carbon budge. The latter need to be given a big boost in RE infrastructure to achieve SDGs for their populations. The point is, both need to happen to achieve the global goal of less than 2 degrees warming.
May 20+21: Halleluyah there is an agenda!
Many observers noted that week one yielded only the agenda from APA. Work has not started yet, and organization of work is the next discussion item. This will resume next week. Unlike with ADP, parties did not want too many break out groups; they would like to have no more than two at a time so as to enable smaller delegations to be equally involved as the larger ones.
The big items still remain: NDCs, adaptation and mitigation, finance and technology, MRV. And as climate tracker put it, we have an agenda while the world burns.
May 23+24: Work Plods Along
Outside of the UNFCCC, several other forums are of interest as they move towards climate action, and Climate Action Network’s side event panel sums these up very well (http://bit.ly/1TBt0r8):
-International Civil Aviation Organization
-International Maritime Organization
For the first time, some of these organizations have explicitly stated they are working towards Paris Agreement objectives.
May 25: How to Implement Paris
Many sessions are closed to observers, and even fewer are webcast. Press conferences are a good way to get clear up-to-date information from afar. From the WRI press conference, the best summary I can provide is:
-A lot of good work is being accomplished for the “how to” for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, in time for the COP22 in Marrakech.
– Biggest Questions are: entry into force (this may well happen by COP22), and a road map for finance (how to get to the $100billion, and money for adaptation funds). There are others, and WRI’s paper on “to do” list summarizes here: http://bit.ly/25j8x1E