Looking back on last week’s ADP2-6 special session, it would be easy to echo the notes of pessimism that pervaded Saturday’s press reports. RTCC (Responding to Climate Change) commented after last Thursday’s stocktaking session that “much work remains” in the session’s last two days and noted the frustrated ADP Co-Chairs “offering government negotiators a stern reality check.” Artur Runge-Metzger acknowledged that the “ambition to finalize the two decisions is no longer possible in Bonn” because State Parties had “not touched on many important things.” Kishan Kumarsingh put it more bluntly, calling on delegates to “look yourselves in the eye; ask yourself if we are on track.”
Saturday’s Business Insider opened with these words: “Concern was high at a perceived lack of urgency as UN climate negotiations shuffled towards a close in Bonn on Saturday with just 14 months left to finalise a new, global pact. The six-day meeting of senior officials in the former West German capital was meant to lay the groundwork for the annual round of ministerial-level UN talks in Lima in December. In turn, the Lima forum must pave the way to a historic pact which nations have agreed must be signed in Paris next year, to curb planet-altering climate change. But some negotiators and observers expressed concern that the Bonn talks focused too much on restating well-known country positions on how responsibility for climate action must be shared.” BI quotes David Waskow of the World Resources Institute (WRI) saying that while the ADP2-6 talks had been constructive, “there is nervousness that the pace is somewhat slow” and Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) echoing this concern more pithily: “People are starting to panic a little.”
Even some good news from individual countries – foreshadowing their INDCs or intended nationally determined commitments/contributions, the content of which was under negotiation all week in Bonn – did not appear to hearten negotiators. For example, the AFP (L’Agence France-Presse) announced on Thursday that “a European deal on curbing carbon emissions yielded a rare concrete input Friday to UN climate talks, but did little to ease frustration among negotiators demanding progress on a global pact in Bonn.” The EU-28’s agreement to cut GHG emissions by at least 40% by 2030 over 1990 levels (building on the EU’s current projected 20% decrease from 1990 to 2020), along with 27% renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, was hailed in Brussels but downplayed by some developing country negotiators in Bonn.
Claudia Salerno, Venezuela’s lead negotiator at the ADP (pictured at right facing the camera), spoke on behalf of the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs) negotiation bloc when she called the EU goals “too little and too late.” Likewise Sweden’s pledge of $550 million to the Green Climate Fund barely took the edge off developing countries concern about the slow progress of all developed countries in meeting their COP15 pledge of mobilizing $100 billion per year of climate finance by 2020. Even though the Swedish government’s press release announced that it is “now choosing to take greater responsibility for Sweden’s climate impact and is making a commitment ahead of Paris 2015 by increasing Green Climate Fund (GCF) financing by approximately USD 550 million (SEK 4 billion) and allocating an additional SEK 500 million to international climate action,” Bloomberg News led its Friday report on ADP2-6 with “a dispute about how to link greenhouse-gas emissions cuts to a promise from the wealthiest nations for $100 billion a year in climate aid emerged as a major stumbling block at UN talks on global warming.” As UCS’s Meyer observed, “there has to be some collective signal from the developed countries that the direction of climate finance will be upwards and not fall off a cliff. You need more clarity on post-2020 finance if you want to get an agreement in Paris.”
Finally, a Greenpeace report noted by the GCCA (Global Call for Climate Action) last week that China — now the world’s largest GHG emitter — had decreased its coal usage this year gained little traction in the Bonn talks. Because China burns almost half of the coal used worldwide each year, the fact that it decreased its coal consumption by about 2% while also growing its economy 7.4% and increasing its energy consumption by 4% indicates that the country is on track to meet the mitigation goals it announced at last month’s UN Climate Summit. This change looks to have resulted from a combination of several “bottom up” initiatives within China, including its National Energy Agency’s proposals to limit coal consumption growth to 2% (by more than doubling wind power capacity and increasing solar capacity fivefold between 2013 and 2020) and regional pledges in 12 of China’s 44 provinces (representing 44% of national coal usage) to limit their coal consumption and the launch of 8 regional carbon markets that prepares China to meet its national emissions trading scheme targeted for 2016.
At the ADP’s closing plenary, State Party delegates spoke out about the road from Bonn to Lima, ignoring the Co-Chairs’ request to end ADP2-6 without individual country interventions. A general theme was sounded by Bolivia speaking on behalf of the G77+China that was echoed by most parties: feeling the political pressure from civil society and wanting to avoid a “take it or leave it” situation in COP20’s final moments, the G77 urged the co-chairs to reorient the ADP’s work in Lima by starting with a clear working text and formal groups that focus negotiation on all core elements of agreement. Ecuador, representing the LMDCs, drew a very clear picture of what it wanted to avoid: “We represent sovereign states. We expect to negotiate with dignity,” not in huddles resulting from a mismanaged process. South Africa, concluding that “the latest version does not reflect the bridges that we’ve built,” additionally called for appointing facilitators to lead these focused groups and working specifically from an updated and reorganized version of the current non-paper. While directing her remarks to the Co-Chairs, the SA lead ADP negotiator reminded everyone in the room – State Party delegates, UNFCCC staff, civil society organizations – that “time is not on our side.” Picking up on this last point, the Swiss ADP lead negotiator, speaking for the EIG (Environmental Integrity Group, the only UNFCCC negotiating bloc to include both developing and developed country members), redirected negotiators’ frustration from the ADP leadership to its membership: “Slow motion this week due to speed limits imposed by parties on themselves, not by co-chairs.” He observed that the week’s focused work on mitigation commitments had been productive, permitting the parties to delve into more detail and nuance, and commended the Co-Chairs for “creating this space.”
Next stop on the road to Lima is this week’s 40th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-40), which began meeting this morning at the Tivoli Conference Center in Copenhagen, Denmark. Its goal: to consider and finalize the IPCC’s Synthesis Report (SYR), which integrates and synthesizes the findings from the three Working Group (WG) reports already published. Taken together, the three WG reports and the SYR will make up the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) that the 196 UNFCCC parties will rely on in Lima. From today until the final gavel on Friday, the IPCC will approve, line by line, the SYR’s Summary for Policymakers (SPM) and adopt the draft SYR – no mean feat, given that more than 800 authors and review editors from 85 countries have had a hand in preparing AR5 during the past six years. Maybe the IPCC’s process could suggest some conflict resolution techniques for the UNFCCC parties?