The United Nations climate recesses in Bonn came to a close this Thursday 11 June. At stake was to prepare the agreement to be reached in Paris, one that should be universal, differentiated, ambitious and legally binding, to guarantee that the planet will not warm by more than 2°C between now and 2050.
And what was the outcome of these two weeks of negotiations? Well, the countries did not manage to significantly shorten the 86-page-long Geneva text with numerous options, which is the same as saying that the negotiations have not moved on from where they were in February. (See the final non-paper on the Web site of the UNFCCC.) The joint-chairpersons guarantee the parties that no option will be removed or changed, and that all the countries are represented in it. The non-paper coming out of Bonn is non-committal, it contains only proposals. Yet they say it is a piece of good news, with the United States and Germany rumored to have issued new financial commitments, even though the funding required to confront the challenges has still not been raised and the closing conference was the opportunity for an appeal to be made to the states.
Peru, which hosted the previous Conference of the Parties (COP 20), is congratulating itself for the efforts made regarding transparency and calling for a reduction in the number of options for each section of the future agreement. Laurence Tubiana, France’s ambassador for the climate negotiations, is asking everybody to contain their frustrations and disappointments, and stresses two good things to have come out of Bonn:
- Progress made with REDD+ (international mechanism for funding the reduction of deforestation and forest degradation), an important issue for those concerned by forests such as the inhabitants of East Africa, South-East Asia and Latin America (further information can be found on the Web site of the UNFCCC); (en savoir plus sur le site de l’UNFCCC)
- A building-up of trust, which will be essential for the following stages.
Why did the negotiators not manage to reach an agreement? Those asked in the corridors gave different opinions. Some said that the people present were of a technical mind and not politicians, yet there can be no negotiation if there is no political power. They call for sessions of a more political nature before the end-of-the-year gathering in Paris. Others told of some countries being afflicted with a sort of mental block vis-à-vis sensitive subjects such as mitigation or funding. There were also those who lamented that by bringing everything down to trust it is action and urgency that get forgotten.
The first of the next lot of gatherings is scheduled for 24 July, the date on which a clarified and streamlined text intended to facilitate negotiations is to be submitted, prepared by each session’s joint-facilitators and joint-chairpersons. Then in August with a more political session. Then again in October, the deadline for an agreement settling the main political decisions that Laurence Tubiana is hoping and praying for. An agreement that will enable December’s COP 21 to fully play its role. Will that suffice to reach an ambitious and for the first time legally binding agreement? Bonn would tell us that trust is what we need.