BONN, Germany, June 6, 2013 (ENS) – The fate of Earth’s climate hangs on UN climate negotiations taking place in Bonn this week to shape a global climate change agreement to be adopted by 2015 that would take effect in 2020.
The negotiations are back in session just weeks after the world crossed the threshold of 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This concentration is at least 50 parts per million above what scientists suggest could avert the worst consequences of climate warming.
“The negotiations are now in a crucial conceptual phase of the 2015 agreement, and need inputs from all relevant stakeholders,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC.
“With growing numbers of countries enacting climate legislation, with investment in renewables growing and private sector attention to climate risk increasing,” said Figueres, “the negotiations can capture the energy and dynamism of all stakeholders, who in turn need to provide clear inputs as to where more ambition is possible, and where international policy guidance from governments can unleash even more action on their part.”
The window of opportunity to deal with the climate crisis is closing as negotiators try to craft an agreement that all countries can adopt, while reaching out to nongovernmental organizations for their input.
“Every moment counts,” said Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis from Climate Action Network Latin America, part of an NGO network of 850+ groups from around the world. “Especially given that atmospheric carbon pollution concentration just pushed through the 400 parts per million landmark and that there is likely to be as few as five negotiating sessions between now and when the global agreement is supposed to be signed in 2015.”
“While the 400 ppm barrier might sound abstract, the impacts of that increased carbon dioxide are very real,” said Harjeet Singh, international coordinator on climate adaptation with ActionAid. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, ActionAid works with 1.5 million people in 45 countries for a world free from poverty and injustice.
“We have already seen real changes to rainfall patterns, to crop yields, increases in storm surges and droughts that are starving and parching vulnerable people across the globe. These impacts are the heralds of a planetary emergency,” warned Singh. “Every ton of reductions of their fair share that rich countries refuse to do equals more damage to poor and vulnerable communities or more effort from poor countries.”
This meeting in Bonn continues the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, ADP.
Established by world leaders at the UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa in 2011, this working group is expected to complete a universal climate agreement by 2015, and also to find ways of increasing the current inadequate level of global ambition to address human-generated climate change before the end of the decade.
During the first round of talks under the ADP this year, which ended May 3 in Bonn, government delegates worked on the main contours and central elements of the 2015 agreement, and also on a practical and results-oriented approach to raising immediate climate ambition.
“The first meeting this year demonstrated that the negotiation is on track to achieve the agreed milestones and objectives. We have already seen many areas of possible common ground,” the ADP Co-Chairs Jayant Moreshver Mauskar and Harald Dovland said in a joint statement.
“We hope that at this session, governments will build on these areas by engaging on topics where differences can be bridged and further enlarge common ground,” they said.
At a special interactive event on Saturday, June 8, the ADP co-chairs will hear proposals from observer organizations on bringing non-governmental actors into the process to contribute to collective action on climate change. Proposals are also welcome on how the 2015 agreement can catalyze such action by non-state actors.
People can participate in the event virtually via webcast from the website of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, and on Twitter.
Meena Raman with the Third World Network said, “The gap between current pollution reduction pledges of rich countries and what science and historical responsibility requires is large – for the Bonn talks to be called a success we will have to see those targets go up.”
Lidy Nacpil is director of a regional alliance of peoples’ movements, community organizations, coalitions, NGOs and networks called Jubilee South – Asia Pacific Movement on Debt & Development. She says carbon offset markets, sometimes called cap-and-trade schemes, are not a solution to global warming.
“Carbon offset markets have been a profound and shocking failure, that they continue to be on the table in these talks is deeply disturbing,” said Nacpil. “Governments in Bonn need to stop throwing good money after bad, and instead invest in meaningful projects that will actually drive a clean energy transition and produce real emission reductions.”
“Dirty energy and dirty money from big fossil fuel corporations have poisoned our communities and our collective decision-making for too long,” said Asad Rehman, head of international climate at Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“The UN talks must kick-start the just transition to renewable energy globally, and stop the hand-out of tax payers’ money to dirty energy corporations. We need to see a real commitment from governments in Bonn to making that change if we are to stop the climate crisis,”
Today, the Bonn talks hosted a special session to investigate the assumptions behind developed countries’ climate pollution targets and whether these targets will do the job of protecting the planet.
Since the 2009 Copenhagen Accord that invited voluntary greenhouse gas reduction pledges, many countries have pledged to cut their greenhouse gas emissions or constrain their growth up to 2020. The question remains whether these pledges can achieve the 2.0 degree safe global temperature limit, or if there will be a gap between what is needed and what is expected as a result of the pledges.
Studies show that it is possible that developed countries are ‘pledging,’ but if all the potential accounting loopholes are allowed, there could be no climate action between now and 2020.
The Bonn talks continue through June 14. This is the final confirmed negotiating session before the annual United Nations climate summit is held in Warsaw, Poland, in November.