Bonn talks: clock to Paris COP21 counts down as pressure rises

Publish date: June 9, 2015

Representatives from over 190 nations are gathered in Bonn, Germany from 1 to 11 June 2015 to progress negotiations on the text of the UN climate deal that will commit all countries to cutting their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions so as to put us on the right track to limiting global temperature rise below 2°C.

The Bonn negotiations are focusing on three key elements: 1) the establishment of regular intervals binding nations to deeper CO2 ­emission cuts; 2) the setting of a goal to reduce emissions to ‘net zero’ in the next half of the century; and 3) determining the different Member States’ contributions into the Green Climate Fund which will aid developing countries’ mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Member State representatives convened in Geneva in February 2015 where they compiled an 89-page long negotiating text composed of a list of proposals reflecting countries’ respective positions. During the current meeting in Bonn, Member States will have to go a step further and negotiate and compress it. The first days of negotiations have, however, been particularly slow with only 5% of the 89-page long draft text having been removed.

Aspirations to reach pre-agreement in October

The Bonn talks come after the Business and Climate Summit which was held in Paris last month, where businesses called on policy makers to introduce policies conducive of the attainment of carbon neutrality before the end of the century, and overlaps with the G7 Summit having taken place in Germany.

Leaders from the G7 countries (U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan) agreed Monday afternoon on measures to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius. The G7 declaration also calls for “binding rules” to “enhance transparency and accountability”.

At the same time, an increasing number of major fossil fuel companies are adopting resolutions, some on climate reporting, in face of the reality of the carbon bubble.

The combination of these developments is serving to build momentum in the lead up to COP21.

In an attempt to accelerate progress towards a post-2015 agreement, French foreign minister and chair of the upcoming COP 21 in December, Laurent Fabius urged delegates in Bonn to aim for a ‘pre-agreement’ by October, so as to allow for the finishing touches to be done in December.

Multilateral assessments of submitted climate pledges

On 4 June a multilateral assessment process of national climate pledges, also called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), was launched alongside the climate talks. This involves presentations by countries of their proposed climate contributions, which so far altogether account for 31% of global CO2 emissions. Following presentations, each country receives an assessment of their approaches and targets.

What is next?

Member States will be gathering again in September and October 2015 in order to do some final text refining before the COP 21 Summit in Paris.

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