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High-drama at Bonn talks as govts begin to implement climate treaty

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
30 May 2016   |   1:36 am
“Countries with different levels of development and from different regions and often differing views on many issues, found a common vision in Paris.
ADP Secretary Marcela Main Sancha (left) and ADP Co-Chairs Ahmed Djoghlaf and Dan Reifsnyder during the Bonn Climate Change summit

ADP Secretary Marcela Main Sancha (left) and ADP Co-Chairs Ahmed Djoghlaf and Dan Reifsnyder during the Bonn Climate Change summit

United Nations climate change negotiations concluded their first session since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in December last year, including the first session of a new body called the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) tasked with carrying out activities related to the implementation of the Agreement.

In fact, what was touted as a “housekeeping meeting” following the high-drama of COP21, turned out to be more eventful than expected.

On the closing day, controversy flared around proposed techno-fixes involving bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) with several dozen African social organisations and networks issuing a joint statement entitled “Sacrificing the global South in the name of the global South:

Why the 1.5°C goal must not be met with land grabs.”

This was followed by an announcement of plans to launch a new renewable energy initiative for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) following on from last year’s breakthrough African Renewable Energy Initiative, which has attracted $10 billion in pledges. The announcement was made during a press conference with Ambassadors from Sweden and Mali on behalf of the African Group, alongside the chief negotiator of the Alliance of Small Island States and the Chair of the LDCs.

Tense exchanges also took place throughout the week and boiled over in the closing plenary of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation around the issue of “conflicts of interest” with over 75 developing countries and many NGOs calling for climate talks to adopt measures which would limit the ability of fossil fuel corporations to advance their agenda, which runs contrary to the objectives of the negotiations.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) told delegates that its board had set an aspirational goal of $2.5 billion in 2016 for both adaptation and mitigation programmes and projects. The GCF urged countries to submit ambitious proposals for funding as soon as possible.

The GEF announced that it had put together forward-looking work programmes for the funding of both mitigation and adaptation projects. On mitigation, 450 million USD is available for new projects while current projects to the value of 106 million USD are already being implemented.

On adaptation, some 250 million USD is available for projects. The GEF will also assist the Moroccan Government to green COP22.

The session featured several events on ensuring early and adequate support for the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and their integration into national economic plans while governments also began exploring how to directly link climate-friendly technology cooperation to the funding arrangements of both the GCF and the GEF.

The May meeting has laid solid foundations for the next annual UN climate change conference, in Marrakech, Morocco, in November. In preparation for their political leadership of COP22 the incoming Moroccan presidency is expected to conduct several consultations over the next few months.

Segolene Royal, President of the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference and French Minister of the Environment, Energy and the Sea, praised the ‘Esprit de Paris’ evident throughout the nearly two weeks of the ‘Bonn session’.

“Countries with different levels of development and from different regions and often differing views on many issues, found a common vision in Paris. That work and that vision has continued, and continued positively here in Bonn, as countries look towards the next major milestone event in Marrakesh in November,” she said.

“For many years we demanded a 1.5°C goal, which for Africa means significantly more warming and severe impacts on food security. For many years we were told it was not politically possible. Now that we have a 1.5°C in the Paris Agreement, we are being told that the measures to achieve it are not politically possible. Instead of changing the mode of production and consumption in the global North, we in the South are being asked to sacrifice our land and food security on the assumption that technologies such as BECCS will work. Let me be clear: they will not work for us.

“We cannot sacrifice our food security and land. Instead we need urgent and serious mitigation to keep to 1.5°C. The next five years are critical – we hope countries come to Marrakech ready to increase their pre-2020 ambition in line with their fair shares” said Augustine Njamnshi of Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance.