Six months have passed since world leaders converged on Paris and struck the historic Paris Agreement, a turning point to a zero-carbon and climate-resilient world. The Bonn climate talks have been negotiators’ first opportunity to develop the rules and tools needed to truly put the Agreement into action. As Jo Tyndall, one the co-chairs of the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA), put it, this is like becoming a parent. After giving birth to the Paris Agreement, negotiators will now have to grapple with the joys and challenges of raising their new child to maturity.
Over the last two weeks, countries worked in a positive spirit of cooperation to take important steps along that path. The negotiations shifted from what the Paris Agreement is to how it will be accomplished, with discussions ranging from how countries will put forward their mitigation commitments and their adaptation actions to how they’ll record, report and assess their progress and ramp up action over time. (For more on the 10 key tracks to deliver on the Paris Agreement, see WRI’s new study, Staying on Track from Paris.)
Here’s a look at some of the major outcomes from the Bonn talks:
Progress on Implementation
The APA negotiating body adopted a balanced agenda that lays out the key issues to be addressed to make the Paris Agreement a living reality, and put in place a process in the lead-up to the next COP in Marrakech in November. Countries also had productive dialogues about how to prepare for entry into force of the Paris Agreement, which is likely to occur either this year or 2017.
Bonn demonstrated the trust being built among the Parties. For the first time ever, progress reports from developing countries faced review by their peers. This process demonstrated the goodwill and efforts of 13 developing countries (Brazil and South Africa among them) to enhance their climate data and action. This could set a good precedent for the review mechanism under the Paris Agreement, and show how provisions about transparency can constructively move countries from finger-pointing to action.
Instead of waiting until the COP in Marrakech, negotiators also agreed on the Terms of Reference and composition of the Paris Committee for Capacity Building (PCCB). This committee will play an important role in shaping and steering the capacity building needed so that all countries can take effective and ambitious climate action.
The climate summit in Paris showcases how stakeholders outside the negotiations can play a critical role in advancing climate action, including before 2020. To further bolster these pre-2020 efforts, last week the COP21 Presidency (France) and next COP Presidency (Morocco) each appointed a champion for this year – Laurence Tubiana, the French Ambassador responsible for climate change negotiations and Hakima el Haite, the Moroccan Minister of Environment. These champions will mobilize commitments by a wide range of actors—from cities to business and beyond—that will be highlighted at COP22.
The climate community also welcomed the two co-chairs of the APA, Sarah Baashan (Saudi Arabia) and Tyndall (New Zealand), who have the delicate task of advancing the various elements of the Paris Agreement’s architecture in a comprehensive, coherent and balanced manner. The NGO community also paid tribute to its “Climate Queen,” the outgoing UNFCCC Secretary Christiana Figures, by dedicating a farewell song to her. No doubt her ingenuity and catalytic energy will be missed. Her successor, former Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinoza -- who played a key role in restoring faith in the climate multilateral process at the climate talks in Cancun a year following the Copenhagen summit – will no doubt carry the baton effectively.
Onward to COP22
Negotiators in Bonn rolled up their sleeves and sustained the Paris spirit. The diligent deliberations to secure a balanced road map for the design of rules and tools will play a big role in whether the Paris Agreement lives up to what all countries promised.
As the climate talks wrapped up, G7 leaders met in Japan and reiterated their support for strong global action to tackle climate change. The formal statement adopted today committed them to strive for entry into force of the Paris Agreement in 2016, to develop and publish mid-century low-emissions strategies well ahead of 2020, and to achieve outcomes this year on aviation emissions and reducing HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. Given the urgency of action, they could have also made clear commitments about taking strong action in the period before 2020.
There’s more to do to accelerate progress, though. The Marrakech climate talks will be the key next moment to shift from forging new agreements to driving action and delivering results. Meeting this bar will be no small feat. In the months ahead, countries and non-state actors must come up with concrete options for consolidating the rules-based regime and continue to make quick, decisive steps to curb emissions, invest in renewables and support communities facing climate impacts.
Encouragingly on the final day of the talks in Bonn, the chairs of the Least Developed Countries, the African Group and Alliance of Small Islands States called for a global initiative to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency at COP22. This initiative follows the continental Africa Renewable Energy Initiative and the International Solar Energy Alliance launched at COP21 in Paris last year. This a great example of the kind of powerful, innovative projects we need to collectively get the world on track to a zero-carbon, climate resilient future.