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Mixed reactions trail Bonn intersessional amid finance concerns

As talks wrapped up in Bonn, Germany on Thursday, May 10, 2018, observers believe that countries must have a laser focus on advancing discussions towards a strong Rulebook.

Bonn delegates

Delegates huddle during informal consultations

According to them, a fair, robust and transparent Rulebook must inspire confidence among countries to step up and commit to enhanced national climate targets by 2020.

To unlock the ambition cycle, which is at the heart of the Paris Agreement and tackle climate impacts, meaningful progress and clear commitments on finance is said to be vital and what is needed.

While discussions are said to have been substantive, tangible progress on specific areas need political intervention. The Polish presidency has a great responsibility to steer this through in the coming months along with other countries, delegates say, adding that high-level ministerial meetings such as the G7 leaders’ summit, MOCA and the Petersberg Dialogue can unblock political differences ahead of the additional session in Bangkok in September.

The Talanoa Dialogue is described as a promising start towards fostering trust and breaking down boundaries in an unconventional setting, showcasing the substantial commitments from cities, businesses and community organisations on climate action.  Observers want it translated into a clear political process, stressing that it has been and continues to be about raising ambition. The format, it is said, inspired discussion

between countries not as negotiating blocs but as one of people to people. Listening to each other and assessing the situation is the first step towards finding common ground for solutions to ramp up ambition and the support that

is needed to do so.The Fiji Presidency has reportedly kickstarted the innovative process, which observers say the Polish Presidency must take up the baton and work with all countries towards a political outcome for stronger national targets by 2020.

The adoption of the IPCC report on 1.5°C this October, they opined, will be an important moment accelerate political momentum. They want the report to inform the Talanoa Dialogue process in 2018 and drive in the urgency of action that is needed: to ramp up ambition by 2020 and to deliver on finance.

Even as the impacts of climate change become increasingly devastating, the outcome from Suva Expert Dialogue to discuss finance to address loss and damage is said to be disappointing. They insist however that the next round of discussions must outline a clear path to mobilise money to address loss and damage ahead of the Warsaw International Mechanism review in 2019.

Sven Harmeling, Global Lead on Climate Change Advocacy, CARE International Climate Change & Resilience Platform: “Despite some technical progress in Bonn, climate change impacts will not wait for slow-paced government negotiations. Without stronger political leadership, it will be an uphill battle to achieve the major milestones envisaged for COP24 in Katowice, Poland, particularly on the Paris Rulebook.

“The heat is on for developed countries to increase finance for vulnerable people in developing countries to minimise and address loss and damage. Countries with high CO2 emissions need to undertake additional measures to reverse continued emissions’ growth and limit climate disruption to 1.5°C. It is essential that climate ambition not fall behind commitments made in the Paris Agreement.”

Mohamed Adow, International Climate Lead, Christian Aid: “This gathering in Bonn was always going to be a very technical meeting and the technical negotiations around the rulebook have actually progressed largely as expected. But what has become clear has been the need from poorer countries for much stronger signals that the funding they have been promised to implement their emissions reductions plans will be delivered.

“The radio silence on money has sown fears among poor countries that their wealthier counterparts are not serious about honouring their promises. This funding is not just a bargaining chip, it is essential for delivering the national plans that make up the Paris Agreement. For the Paris Agreement to be a success we need the Katowice COP to be a success. And for the Katowice COP to be a success we need assurances that sources of funding will be coming.”

Li Shuo, Senior Global Policy advisor, Greenpeace: The Paris Agreement cannot be a one-off achievement which is left like a trophy in a box to be admired but never acted on. The box needs to be unlocked, it needs to happen in 2018 and the key to that is trust. Trust has to be built at a ministerial level through exchanges on important issues such as differentiation and finance. In the months before Bangkok, ministers must engage to start a dynamic process that leads to a robust rulebook and much greater ambition.

“The architecture is there for ambition to be raised, the Talanoa Dialogue, which has led to a real spirit of cooperation, getting beyond the finger-pointing to remind everyone that we all share the same planet and we all need to do more to protect it. The mood created by Talanoa has to start delivering tangible results in the form of enhanced national targets, and we look forward to the EU and China taking an early lead on this.”

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Mark Lutes, Head of Delegation, WWF: “We have seen steady, if uneven, progress in the negotiations. Pieces are falling in place for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. This is evident both with the rules, and closing the emissions gap. But finance is key to getting a good outcome in Katowice. Meeting the $100 billion commitment and getting a signal by COP24 for the upcoming Green Climate Fund funding round will be vital if countries are to collective agree to present more ambitious climate plans by 2020.”

Krishneil Narayan, Climate Change Consultant, Fiji and the Pacific Islands Region: “As a Fijian, it was wonderful to see the Talanoa Dialogue off to a positive start. The important task, however, is to now translate these stories into a meaningful way that ramps up ambition for turning around the climate impacts. With the addition of another round of talks scheduled for Bangkok in September, countries and all involved in the climate talks, including the non-state actors must focus to ensure that we are able to deliver a strong and effective Paris Rulebook at COP24 in December. The Paris Agreement recognised Loss and Damage as the third pillar of climate action but it is still facing difficulty in finding a space for itself in these talks.

“Implementation of the entire Paris Agreement in a holistic manner means also addressing loss and damages. Countries must ensure the meaningful inclusion of Loss and Damage in textual negotiations at Bangkok. Perhaps more Fijian kava-fueled zest needs to be injected into the formal negotiations sessions itself to help negotiators guide the future course of action.”

Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada said: “Negotiators came here to work and have achieved measured progress in Bonn. The addition of a session in Bangkok signals Parties’ intention to get the job done in 2018. Doing so will require not only a tremendous amount of technical work in the coming months; getting the job done also necessitates strong political will that capitalises on a series of upcoming moments to secure the Paris Agreement and show that countries are committed to implementing and strengthening it. These moments include Canada’s G7 leaders’ summit, the Petersberg Dialogue, and the Ministerial on Climate Action – hosted by the EU, China, and Canada.

“The global community will be looking to Canada here to back up its narrative of climate leadership with tangible results. Through these events, Ministers will have to deepen their understanding of how to land an outcome at COP24 that best serves the implementation of the Paris Agreement and sends the political signals necessary to work through sticky and complex issues. It will also mean a concerted effort to demonstrate that donor countries will deliver the financial support required to unlock ambition. We talk a lot about leadership in this space and leadership will always be necessary. But what I’m looking for in 2018 is conviction. Conviction from countries to do what it takes to hold true to their Paris promise of protecting the world’s most vulnerable and holding average temperature rise to 1.5oC.”

Hannah McKinnon, Director, Energy Futures and Transitions, Oil Change International, said: “What is currently on offer in these negotiations isn’t cutting it. Countries have been negotiating for decades without ever getting serious about tackling fossil fuel production. It is time to embrace climate leadership that says ‘no’ to approving and financing new fossil fuel projects, and demand that the wealthy fossil fuel producers who have committed to action, begin an equitable and just managed transition off of oil, gas, and coal production.”

On climate finance, Harjeet Singh, Global Climate Lead, ActionAid International said: “The issue of finance underpins so many different parts of climate negotiations, because poor countries simply can’t cover the triple costs of loss and damage, adaptation and mitigation on their own.

“But with developed countries refusing to move on finance, lots of pieces are still unfinished. This is holding up the whole package, which is supposed to be finalised at the end of this year. Issues are piling up, and it’s a dangerous strategy to leave everything to the last minute.

“Finance is too important to be used as a bargaining chip. If we’re to see any progress on the so-called ‘Paris rulebook’, wealthy countries need to provide real money for climate action.”

On the Talanoa Dialogue, Teresa Anderson, Climate policy officer, ActionAid International said: “What was special about the Talanoa Dialogue was that it allowed people to engage with each other as humans with hearts, rather than as governments with agendas. People genuinely cried at eachothers’ stories of climate impacts. This was a powerful first chapter in the Talanoa story.

“But we need to remember that the original purpose and mandate of this process was not emotional release.  The world agreed that a process to take stock of efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C would take place in 2018. Now all eyes are on the Fijian and Polish presidencies to map out the political phase over the course of the year.

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“The next round of negotiations in Bangkok, as well as the upcoming IPCC special report on 1.5°C is key opportunities for countries to assess the need for action and finance, so that they can announce increased climate commitments at COP24 climate talks in Poland at the end of the year.”

Camilla Born, Senior Policy Adviser, E3G: “Negotiations went better than expected. Parties showed they are serious about delivering the Paris Agreement so in Bonn they got down to serious business. The next challenge is to mobilise the political will to get the COP24 outcomes over the line in Katowice. This won’t be easy but the Polish Presidency has the chance to up their game and make the most of moments like the Petersburg Dialogue, MOCA and the UN General Assembly.

“With negotiations now moving to text the pressure is on the likes of EU, China and Canada to come good on the universality of the Paris Agreement at the MOCA even whilst the US is for now missing in action.”

Tracy Carty, Climate Policy Lead, Oxfam International: “Bonn sent a concerning message on finance – the options on the table are not enough, and the risk of gridlock at COP24 is high. For developing countries raising mitigation ambition, NCD implementation, and dealing with increasingly ferocious climate impacts all come back to finance. Finance they need and have been promised. Developed countries need to get serious about the need to improve predictability of climate finance, and put new commitments to real money on the table by COP24, including for adaptation and for the Green Climate Fund.  They also need to be prepared to commit to fair and robust rules for the $100 billion commitment that are due to be agreed in Katowice.”

Paula Caballero, Global Director, Climate Program, World Resources Institute: “Climate negotiators kept up a good pace this week, but will be leaving Bonn with a lot more ground to cover to get to the finish line in Poland this December. At the next negotiation session in Bangkok delegates will need to maintain that same focused approach to turn the corner on the politics and policy.

“The UN climate summit in Katowice will be the most consequential political moment for climate action since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015. By the time the final gavel is struck, all countries should adopt an action and support package that will put the Paris Agreement fully into motion. Success must be three-fold: finalise guidelines for implementing the Paris pact, make clear that countries will strengthen national climate commitments by 2020 and signal that support for developing countries will also continue to ramp up.

“All eyes now turn to the Polish COP presidency, who must show the forward-looking leadership necessary to drive the world to an outcome that reflects the urgency, seriousness and scale of effort necessary to tackle the climate challenge.

“The Talanoa Dialogue session was a collective reality check on the state of climate action, highlighting how far we have left to go but also the transformational solutions the world needs. The inclusive discussion was a reminder that governments cannot tackle climate change alone – they need the extra muscle of businesses, civil society and cities to turn the promise of the Paris Agreement into a reality. As a number of delegates made clear, now the Talanoa needs to lay the foundation for COP24 to signal that countries will enhance their national climate plans by 2020.

“Leaders must demonstrate political leadership at a number of key moments this year to get where we need to go, including the Petersberg Dialogue, UN General Assembly, and the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings.”

Sébastien Duyck, Senior Attorney, Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL), said: “Progress towards a comprehensive set of guidelines to implement the Paris Agreement was slow but paves the way for productive negotiations towards a successful outcome at the COP-24. We welcome the fact that the draft guidance for national commitments retains an invitation for Parties to consider the relevance of human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, gender equality and a just transition. These guiding principles are necessary for reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius. Also, we have heard during the Talanoa Dialogue many governments and stakeholders highlight opportunities for increasing mitigation action. We now look forward to a strong political signal at the COP-24 calling for Parties to enhance their commitments in line with the imperative of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C.”

Rixa Schwarz, Team Leader International Climate Policy at Germanwatch: “We were positively surprised how clearly the most crucial issue was discussed in Bonn: we need more ambition in order to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The Talanoa Dialogue showed that more ambition in the next years is both necessary and possible and that the countries by 2020 need to submit enhanced NDCs for 2030. A solid rulebook on implementation guidelines for comparability and transparency must provide for NDC enhancement starting next year. Progress was made on the implementation guidelines but at the following meeting in Bangkok in September a decision text must be negotiated with greater pace in order to reach decisions on robust guidelines in Katowice in December. The lack of sufficient climate finance became evident at Bonn.  Climate finance is required for developing countries’ ambition on mitigation and on managing the non-avoidable climate impacts.

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“The success of 2018 in international climate policy also depends on the German chancellor Merkel: she will host ministers from across the world at the Petersberg Dialogue on 18 June – a great chance to prepare a success of COP24 in Katowice. For this, Germany needs to deliver: Merkel must make sure that German greenhouse gas emissions decrease again and that the national mitigation targets are met. Also, she must take concrete steps towards realising her promise to double Germany’s contributions to international climate finance by 2020.”

Alden Meyer, Director of Strategy and Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists: “All countries must come to Katowice prepared to adopt a robust, comprehensive rulebook to fully implement the Paris Agreement, and send clear signals they intend to increase the ambition of their national actions, as is required to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Developed countries must provide greater confidence on how they’ll meet their commitment to mobilise $100 billion in annual support for developing country actions by 2020, and actively develop strategies to ramp up assistance to the most vulnerable countries already experiencing devastating climate impacts.

“While some headway was made in Bonn on several more technical topics, sharp political differences remain on a handful of issues, especially on climate finance and the amount of differentiation in the Paris Agreement rules for countries at varying stages of development. These issues are above the pay grade of negotiators in Bonn, and will require engaging ministers and national leaders to resolve them. The Petersburg Dialogue in Berlin and the Ministerial on Climate Action meeting in Brussels, held back-to-back in mid-June, are excellent opportunities for ministers to start providing some of that leadership.

“As the incoming presidency of COP 24, Poland also needs to step up its game in providing firmer guidance on ways to resolve the crunch issues, ensuring a successful meeting in Katowice. Having hosted two previous climate summits, Poland knows what the role requires; now they need to play their part.”

Ulriikka Aarnio, International Climate Policy Coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe: “Throughout this round of UN climate talks the EU has been giving positive signals about the need to revise current climate targets by 2020. The constructive role that the EU has played in Bonn needs now to be turned into a clear political statement by ministers meeting at the Petersberg Dialogue and the Ministerial on Climate Action next month. The ministers need to provide the much-needed political guidance on how to increase climate pledges, overcome political differences over the Paris Agreement rules and deliver clarity on finance by COP24. We maintain hope that the Polish COP Presidency will raise to the challenge and secure a successful outcome at COP24, despite their negative approach to climate policy at home and at the EU level.”

Jesse Bragg, Media Director, Corporate Accountability: “Over the past two weeks, the issue of Big Polluters’ corrosive interference in climate policymaking once again dominated the talks. Over the course of five days, Global South governments representing nearly 70 percent of the world’s population stood steadfast and determined to reach a mandate for a conflict of interest policy.

“Developing countries led by Ecuador and Cuba put forward draft recommendations which would initiate a process to address the growing problem of polluting industries undermining the talks. However, the U.S. led other developed countries in opposition. The issue will be revisited next year.

“Once again, the United States and its pro-fossil fuel allies are on the wrong side of history, putting Big Polluters before people and the planet. But this week’s results prove that no amount of obstruction from the U.S. and its Big Polluter allies will ultimately prevent this movement from advancing.

“And while Global North obstructionism mired these talks in delays, obstruction and censorship, Global South leaders prevailed in securing a clear path forward for the conflict of interest movement, ensuring the issue will be front and centre next year.”

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