The final round of negotiations in preparation for the COP 20 climate conference got underway yesterday at UNFCCC headquarters in Bonn, Germany. Set for December in Lima, Peru, COP 20 is an important stepping stone to forging a new universal climate agreement in 2015 at COP 21 in Paris.
The "October session" aims at giving countries the opportunity "to further develop a cohesive text of a new draft climate agreement," the UNFCCC said in a press release.
The elements must be clear by the Climate Change Conference to be held in Lima, Peru, in December this year. This clarity will serve as the foundation for the construction of the negotiating text.
The resulting draft will serve as the foundation for the hoped-for binding climate agreement in 2015. The preparatory work this week will help negotiators in Lima define what each country will contribute to the final treaty "in line with national circumstances."
At COP 15 in 2009, the "Copenhagen Accord" was brokered after two weeks of bitter rhetoric in a last-minute session between U.S. president Barack Obama and a handful of leaders from other developed nations. While lacking any binding agreement, countries proclaimed the "aspirational goal" of limiting global temperature increase to no more than 2° Celsius. An aspiration that since then continues to slip further from reality as global emissions remain on an increasingly upward track. Nonetheless, optimism for progress remains as the hard work continues toward reaching an effective, binding international agreement in Paris next year.
Early in 2015 countries will officially put forward their planned contributions to that agreement in the form of "Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)." According the UNFCCC press release, the "what" and "how" needs to be formally agreed upon at COP 20 in Lima to pave the way for countries to commit to these INDCs early next year.
Technical Experts Meetings in Bonn
Two special themes will also be addressed in Bonn this week as part of an ongoing series of "Technical Experts Meetings" (TEMs). The first will engage dialog between experts, governments representative and NGOs on carbon capture and storage technology. The second theme deals with non-CO2 greenhouse gases such as methane and hydrofluorocarbons. Throughout 2014, these TEMs have covered policies designed to raise ambition internationally in renewable energy and energy efficiency, urban design and land use issues.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres expressed her optimism at the growing momentum toward a real, lasting agreement to address global climate change:
"I welcome Parties to Bonn next week knowing that further progress towards a draft agreement will contribute to making Lima the success it needs to be," said Figueres, "2014 has been an extraordinary year of momentum by governments supported by climate action from cities and communities to corporations and the finance sector—our meeting next week will I am sure concretely carry forward that sense of optimism, dynamism and determination as we look forward to COP 20 in Peru in one month's time."