Climate talks concluded in Bonn, Germany last Friday "on track to produce the first comprehensive draft of the new, universal climate change agreement that governments are committed to reach in Paris, in December," according to a press release from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“At this session, countries have crystalized their positions and have requested the Co-Chairs to produce a concise basis for negotiations with clear options for the next negotiating session in October. This means that we will arrive in Paris on time without too much turbulence-- not before, not later,” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Co-Chair of the ADP, the negotiating body tasked with reaching the agreement that must put the world on a path to stay beneath a 2 degree Celsius temperature rise.
“What Parties are looking for now is a better basis from which to negotiate. This week, we achieved an enormous amount of clarity as to where we are going which makes this possible and allows us to speed up,” said Co-Chair Daniel Reifsnyder.
Pieces of the puzzle, loss and damage: the elephant in the room
Laurence Tubiana, Special Climate Envoy for the Government of France said: "At this session, countries have clarified all the different pieces of the puzzle. Now, all pieces of the puzzle will be assembled and this will enable the negotiations to pick up pace.”
After decades of climate talks and the specter of COP15 and the aspirational "Copenhagen Accord" it produced, negotiators are well aware of the most difficult issues before them if they hope to reach a deal in Paris. The BBC reports one crucial piece of the puzzle of which negotiators have expressed optimism from the Bonn talks is "compromise on the thorny issue of loss and damage."
Developing nations point to increasing frequency of extreme weather events from climate change caused mostly by greenhouse gas emissions from rich nations and the responsibility of rich nations to compensate poorer nations for loss and damage from these even. According to the World Bank, losses to insurers due to weather events has risen from about $50 billion a year in the 1980s to around $200 billion now.
The United States and European Union have resisted the idea compensation for loss and damage fearing an "unending string of liability." At COP19 in Warsaw the issue was a major roadblock, leading to the "Warsaw Mechanism" intended to develop a plan to tackle the issue within two years. Developing nations propose loss and damage should "be at the heart of a new global deal."
Despite prior resistance from the U.S. and EU, observers in Bonn report they have backed-off from their hard line attitude, instead engaging in discussion on these ideas "in a constructive and positive spirit." A proposal from the U.S. concedes that the Warsaw Mechanism should be extended and made permanent, and they would "respond to concerns of developing countries."
"It's a big step forward," Harjeet Singh of Action Aid told the BBC, "At least people are feeling a recognizing the elephant in the room, they're not hiding it under the carpet anymore."
"At this meeting we've seen positive moves that I think give us hope that loss and damage can be successfully concluded and we can agree a successful climate agreement in Paris," said Julie-Anne Richards from the campaign group, Climate Justice. <
The next and last meeting of the ADP before the COP21 conference in Paris will take place October 19-23 in Bonn.
“I am very encouraged,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “This session has yet again proven that all countries are moving in the direction of progress and all agree that Paris is the final destination for the new universal agreement.”
Image credit: European Commission DG ECHO, courtesy flickr