The United Nations’ climate negotiations usually gain the press spotlight once a year, when the big Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting takes place. However, the process of designing a global climate agreement is ongoing, and additional meetings are scheduled throughout the year.
One such meeting is currently taking place in Bonn. The meeting addresses a broad range of topics, among which mitigation, adaptation, climate equity and climate finance. All of these are crucial for minimizing the social and economic impacts of climate change, and all can reduce the severe health footprint that a changing climate inevitably has.
There is a wide consensus that time is running out and the meeting’s co-chair, Mr. Runge-Metzger, warned that if no decisive action is taken we could be looking at a 4 ˚C warming by the end of the century. This would spell catastrophe for the most vulnerable countries, such as small island states and least developed countries,
Because of this, the least developed and developing countries are demanding that the developed countries step forward and take the lead, both in terms of national plans to reduce emissions and in providing climate finance. As eloquently stated by the Philippines, “In our delegation we do not speak of support... finance is a commitment by developed countries, not support.”
In line with the feeling that the time is ripe for decisive action, it was decided to establish a formal negotiation group, called “contact group” in UN jargon, to continue the work on a global climate treaty. This decision will come into effect in June, when the parties will meet again to proceed with the negotiations. This is a distinct step forwards from the informal consultations that have taken place for the last two years.
Besides this, however, the meeting in Bonn has had few concrete outcomes. The talks have been plagued by clashes over procedural and organizational issues, which have often overshadowed the central point of the negotiations, namely climate change.
With time running out and the aim to have an ambitious global climate treaty in place by 2015, every second of negotiating time is precious. Today is the final day of meetings here in Bonn, and we all hope it will end on a positive note, preparing the ground for the next round of talks in June.