As international climate negotiators gather in Bonn, Germany next week, the climate summit in Paris at the end of the year is no longer on the distant horizon. Their discussions should proceed with the seriousness and pace required to reach a new, international climate agreement at the Conference of Parties (COP 21) in December.
At the last negotiating session in Geneva in February, countries had a last opportunity to add elements to the negotiating text of the new agreement, making sure that all key issues and ideas were incorporated. Now is the moment to slice through the many layers and identify the main elements.
This is not an easy task. They’ll need to prioritize some issues over others, and spend much time removing overlapping, redundant parts of the text. The recent suggestions for the agreement put forward by the ACT 2015 consortium can help provide ideas in distilling the negotiating text to core issues.
Here’s a list of three major areas that should be fleshed out in Bonn:
1) Ongoing Cycles of Action:
A key area of discussion will be whether or not to establish “cycles of action,” regular intervals at which countries will ramp up their domestic climate action plans, on a predictable schedule. Countries first need to decide to establish these regular review and update periods and then clarify that the timeframe will allow countries to review and increase action without long delays. At Bonn, countries should also agree that the cycles will be applicable to mitigation, adaptation and support (including finance), though how each of the cycles is designed will likely be distinct.
2) Long-term Goals:
An important issue for negotiators to decide is that the agreement will include long-term goals for mitigation and for adaptation. In the case of mitigation, a long-term mitigation trajectory in the agreement would create greater clarity about the direction of global emissions reductions. On adaptation, progress on crafting a qualitative, long-term goal focused on building resilience and reducing vulnerability globally would also be an important next step.
Countries need to begin defining how they will ramp up the finance needed after 2020 to mitigate and adapt to a warmer world. In addition to addressing how finance will be mobilized, the text emerging from Bonn should clarify that there will be attention to shifting the broader flows of public and private investment to achieving climate objectives and sustainable development goals.
For each of these issues and others, success in Bonn means that negotiators will both narrow down options in the text while also making key decisions. The timeframe to Paris is tight—this negotiation session is one of the last opportunities to make progress before the big show in December. Countries will need to accelerate their engagement and put us on a clear pathway to an ambitious, effective outcome in Paris.