The first session of climate negotiations since the adoption of the Paris Agreement has failed to prioritise immediate action to reduce emissions.
Developing countries, who are already feeling the negative impacts of a warming planet, wanted to ensure discussions included adaptation to climate change and finance for poorer countries. They challenged the proposed agenda, which put more emphasis on mitigating climate change.
With agreement on an agenda that included all issues, the second week of negotiations covered mitigation and adaptation, guidance for nationally determined contributions to emissions reductions (NDCs), transparency and the global stocktake. Parties emphasised that international guidance on how to account for NDCs should be non-prescriptive. They also proposed that transparency and review be non-intrusive, non-punitive, and not constrain mitigation efforts. This rings alarm bells, as to achieve the Paris Agreement ambition of keeping global warming to a 1.5°C temperature rise, emission reductions need to go well beyond the level set by all NDCs.
The meeting’s conclusions requested parties to submit their views, by 30 September, on guidance for NDCs, including for accounting rules, adaptation, the transparency framework, and the global stocktake, which will assess collective progress towards the goals in the Paris Agreement every five years, starting in 2023.
Parties also discussed market and non-market approaches to mitigation, including a new sustainable development mechanism expected to replace the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Parties and observer organisations have until 30 September to submit views on issues including cooperative approaches; rules, modalities and procedures for a sustainable development mechanism; and a work programme on non-market approaches.
Outside the official negotiating process, questions surrounding how land might be used to meet the 1.5°C goal resulted in a ‘row’ over the role of bioenergy can or cannot play in mitigating climate change. ActionAid and Oxfam raised concerns that scaling up bioenergy production and use would threaten food security and promote land grabs among vulnerable communities. Climate scientist Bill Hare acknowledged the risks but maintained bioenergy was an essential plank of 1.5°C scenarios.
Disappointingly, very little attention was placed on pre-2020 action to reduce emissions, particularly in industrialised nations. To even have a 33 per cent chance to limit climate change to 2°C industrialised countries must reduce emissions by minimum 10 per cent year on year achieving zero emissions from energy by 2035 (assuming zero emissions from deforestation by 2030). The Bonn talks, unfortunately, don’t give much hope for real action to achieve this. With every delay the chance to limit rising temperatures to 1.5°C moves further out of reach.