By Rita Joshi
BONN (IDN) - The first UN climate change meeting since governments adopted the landmark Paris Agreement in December 2015 concluded on May 26 with “a set of positive outcomes that will support the treaty’s widely anticipated early entry into force and stronger, sustained action world-wide into the future”.
Affirming this optimistic claim by the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), David Waskow, International Climate Director of the World Resources Institute (WRI) said: “This is the only formal round of international negotiations between the Paris climate summit last December and the forthcoming climate summit in Marrakech, Morocco (COP22) in November.”
The nearly two-week long gathering saw countries push ahead with implementing stronger climate action and constructing what the UNFCCC called the global climate regime “rule book” in order to guarantee the treaty’s fairness, transparency and balance between nations.
“Though no longer under the world’s spotlight, delegates made crucial progress with the essential task of developing a rulebook to turn the promise of the Paris Agreement into a reality,” said Waskow.
In view of this, the Marrakech climate talks in November will be a shift from forging new agreements to driving action and delivering results. Meeting this bar will be no small feat. But, in the months ahead, said Waskow, countries must prepare by continuing to make quick, decisive steps that curb emissions, invest in renewables and support communities facing climate impacts.
Considering that success would depend on funding flows, UNFCCC said: “While work towards the agreed flows of USD 100 billion per annum by 2020 continues, two of the key international funding arms – the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) – underlined how they are supporting the Agreement.
The GCF told delegates that its board had set an aspirational goal of 2.5 billion USD in 2016 for both adaptation and mitigation programmes and projects. The GCF urged countries to submit ambitious proposals for funding as soon as possible.
The GEF announced that it had put together forward-looking work programmes for the funding of both mitigation and adaptation projects. On mitigation, 450 million USD is available for new projects while current projects to the value of 106 million USD are already being implemented. On adaptation, some 250 million USD is available for projects. The GEF will also assist the Moroccan Government to green COP22.
The session featured several events on ensuring early and adequate support for the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and their integration into national economic plans while governments also began exploring how to directly link climate-friendly technology cooperation to the funding arrangements of both the GCF and the GEF.
Segolene Royal, President of the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference and French Minister of the Environment, Energy and the Sea, praised the ‘Esprit de Paris’ evident throughout the nearly two weeks of the ‘Bonn session’.
“Countries with different levels of development and from different regions and often differing views on many issues, found a common vision in Paris. That work and that vision has continued, and continued positively here in Bonn, as countries look towards the next major milestone event in Marrakesh in November,” she said.
The substantive work across three technical bodies, as well as the constituted bodies under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), includes developing rules for accounting financial resources, overall reporting and transparency arrangements and how science should inform the implementation of the agreement.
It also includes technical work to improve the delivery of capacity building and technology cooperation and to evolve a credible regime covering loss and damage from climate change.
The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to limit an average global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius with a preference for holding this to a safer 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures. Scientific data shows that around one degree of this rise has already occurred.
The agreement’s goals therefore require an early peak in global emissions followed by a very rapid reduction, which must go hand in hand with a significant strengthening of social and economic resilience to climate change.
UNFCCC noted that countries followed up with in-depth discussions on the role of science in the implementation process. In this context, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agreed to include the 1.5C temperature target in the next overall assessment report on climate science. Further, the IPCC will issue the report to match the timing of the 2018 stocktaking on collective progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“The May meeting has laid solid foundations for the next annual UN climate change conference, in Marrakech, Morocco, in November. In preparation for their political leadership of COP22 the incoming Moroccan presidency is expected to conduct several consultations over the next few months,” stated the UNFCCC Secretariat.
Incoming President of COP22, Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, said: “We count on the support of all the parties to COP22 to translate our solidarity and hope into action for our future generations and the planet. And we are convinced that the success of COP22 will be based on the active contribution of each and every one of us.”
In line with the outcomes from Paris, two high-level champions have been appointed to advance a Global Climate Action Agenda by so called ‘non-party stakeholders’ ranging from local authorities to companies and investors. The Champions, who are Hakima El Haite, Morocco's Delegate Minister in Charge of the Environment and Ms. Laurence Tubiana, France's Lead Negotiator of the Paris Agreement, were formally introduced to delegates here in Bonn.
El Haite , said: “The solidarity and trust built in Paris must be indicators of the success in Marrakech. COP 22 needs to be an action COP, launched on the work done in Bonn. It needs to strengthen tangible solutions and actions whilst maintaining the spirit of Paris.”
Tubiana echoed this and added: “Now is the time to fully connect government actions, and in particular NDCs, with the many initiatives and coalitions carried out by Non State Actors : let's bring the good energy of the outside in the inside!”
The champions will drive the action agenda with a focus on Africa and developing countries, as well as through signature meetings such as the September 1-2, 2016, Multinationals of the South Summit, in Rabat, Morocco.
The speeded up pace of progress in Bonn reflects the expectation that the agreement will enter into force reasonably soon after there have now been no less than 177 signatories to the agreement and 17 countries have already deposited their instruments of ratification, which is the final step for a nation formally joining. At COP22, countries are likely to identify ways to integrate their work on the rule book with a possible early entry into force of the Paris Agreement.
The agreement will enter into force as soon as 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions deposit their instruments of ratification.
The Conventions technical bodies are developing the tools and mechanisms for the implementation of the Paris Agreement by moving forward climate action before 2020 – both a springboard and a foundation for strengthened climate action.
Delegates meeting at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn had the opportunity to say farewell to outgoing UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres at a special plenary event. At the opening of the event, Christiana Figueres said:
"When I first spoke to this distinguished group as the new Executive Secretary in 2010, six months after COP15 in Copenhagen, I invited all governments to courageously rise to the scale and urgency of what had to be done, to set the sails higher than where they were.
"Since then, over the past six years, with increasing support from non-Party actors and civil society from around the world, you have constantly trimmed the sails, grasping the politically possible at every point along the way, until in Paris last December you were able to fully capture the winds of change and put the world on a clear course toward sustainable, environmentally sound social and economic growth." [IDN-InDepthNews – 29 May 2016]
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
Photo: "You captured the winds of change in Paris," outgoing UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres told the delegates. Courtesy: UNFCCC.