After nearly two weeks of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Bonn, the pathway to Paris and the new international climate agreement to be agreed there at the end of 2015 is beginning to emerge. At this mid-year negotiating session held between the annual summits that take place in December, climate negotiators began to discuss key issues, particularly the framework for the national offers that individual countries will make (their “intended nationally determined contributions”).
The central themes of the Bonn talks were:
Adaptation is a major, growing concern for many countries. As the impacts of climate change have become more clear, especially in vulnerable developing countries, and as the results of the IPCC AR5 have been absorbed, many countries emphasized that adaptation must be a central issue in the 2015 agreement. It will now be up to the UNFCCC process to work out ways to address the issue effectively to build the kind of support and capacity that countries will need to become more resilient to a warming world. This means ensuring that the processes for developing National Adaptation Plans can move forward and get the support they need. Discussions of broader global adaptation objectives will also be on the table.
A long-term emissions reduction goal in the 2015 agreement – including a plan to phase out greenhouse gas emissions globally – drew widening support from negotiators. More than 60 countries backed a long-term global goal, and some – including Germany, the Marshall Islands, Uganda, and the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean– spoke in favor of a goal for phasing out greenhouse gas emissions. The issue of long-term emissions trajectories is seen by many as a way to solidify the UNFCCC goal of keeping global temperature rise below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). A long-term goal could also set the framework for a durable UNFCCC agreement in which countries regularly increase action over time.
The Bonn talks focused attention on the intended nationally determined contributions that countries will put forward next year. The Lima Conference of the Parties (COP 20) this December will need to agree on the degree of information and transparency that countries will be required to provide as part of their proposed contributions. For mitigation, the extent of the information provided will be key to determining the real impact on a country’s emissions. Meanwhile, one of the central questions at the Bonn talks has been whether and how to include adaptation and finance in the contributions. Once the proposed contributions are put forward, a robust assessment process will be needed to examine the contributions, determine whether they achieve adequate emissions reductions, and to encourage countries to raise their offers.
These issues will help set the context leading up to the Lima climate conference this year and on the way to Paris in 2015. The next UNFCCC negotiating session in October must make significant progress on the framework for the intended nationally determined contributions. It will also have to move forward on another key outcome for Lima: agreement on the elements for the 2015 agreement. The Bonn negotiators discussed essential issues, but much remains to be done in the coming months.