Friday, June 19, 2015

Climate Change - COP-20, Bonn, ... Not Ready for Paris

We just had an eleven days of talks about the future of climate change in Bonn, Germany. The results do not look good (surprise -- not!).

To begin with, remember the important thing to note is that at the end of 2015, in Paris at Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (COP-21), we are supposed to finalize a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Let us go back six months to the failed (again!) Conference of the Parties. In December 2014 it was the turn of Lima, Peru to host COP-20.

COP-20 was to be a major step toward the goal of having an agreement ready for Paris. In fact, COP-20 was nothing like that at all. What we got was a weak four page statement. Those four pages were indeed agreed on only after the conference went into overtime -- and addressed none of the major issues.

One thing that was "agreed" on at COP-20 was that countries would give to the UNFCCC secretariat stating their country's action plan. However, the plan is voluntary, not mandatory. The deadline was 31 March. But only 34 countries have given their action plan! That just shows how unimportant governments think about making any real impact.

However, just the individual contributions are not enough. The sum of all emissions cuts must be such that they keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

Now what about Bonn? The biggest thing is that many important countries are refusing to discuss national contributions and how they would add together. Without this there is really no way that the goals of climate change could be met. The European Union (EU) and African countries want countries to face up to the fact that emission totals won't keep global warming below the 2 degree threshold. However, other countries - especially, China, India, and Brazil - do not want to discuss national contributions until Paris. This has effectively slowed the negotiations.

Instead, the negotiators spent almost all of the meeting discussing procedural issues for the Paris meeting. But even more importantly is the fact that the major issues (in addition to emission cuts) such as equity and finance for developing countries have yet to be addressed.

There was one piece of good news. That is, a draft agreement on technical aspects of the UN's REDD+ (Reductions of Emissions due to Deforestion and Degradation Plus reforestation) was agreed to.

So what will happen in Paris? I think that the countries will agree to will be a meaningless piece of paper. Then they will claim it to be the deal of the century. And global warming will continue to go on.

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