02 Jun France calls for a speedy UN Climate pact while China calls for caution
On the first day of the Bonn meeting on Monday, June 1 2015, France called for a pre-Paris agreement to be struck by October, and urged the Paris Summit in December to add the finishing touches. China’s lead envoy in Bonn Su Wei played the optimism down, stating that there was limited time and it was difficult to reach agreement until the last moment of the talks.
A major stumbling block is who is going to provide the $100 billion each year that has been promised to poorer nations from 2020 to combat climate change, or the funds to soften the impacts between now and then. Wei reiterated that developing nations need more than finance for climate change they didn’t cause-they also need the legal obligations to be clarified.
According to Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists the mood of the opening day was very positive and he noted that countries displayed a workman-like attitude. Chief negotiator of the Alliance of Small Islands States bloc Amjad Abdulla stated that no country would oppose a deal in Paris, and that they trusted nations to reduce the text to a manageable number of pages.
Abdulla, who is leading a group of 44 countries that are at risk of rising sea levels, was adamant that countries must limit warming to 1.5°C by the end of this century and also establish a separate natural disaster fund. The Maldivian was also adamant that the reality on the ground was that climate change is an everyday issue. If the world moves beyond 1.5°C of warming their life will be in danger, and he questioned who would travel to the Maldives to dive in what would amount to a graveyard.
The World Resources Institute’s David Waskow stated there were three action areas for the Bonn meeting-establishing cycles of action (regular intervals where nations trigger deeper carbon cuts), a long term goal to get to zero emissions, and ways to realise an adaptation fund for climate change for poor countries. To date only 40 of 196 nations have posted their emission reduction pledges, and in October the UN will rank the collective impact on curbing global warming to within the 2°C that scientists believe will avert dangerous and largely irreversible.
According to a recent study by the Grantham Institute, national targets cover approximately 75% of the world’s annual emissions. However, these targets are not considered sufficient to limit warming to 2°C which was agreed in 2009. The Grantham Institute report reviewed the climate change legislation of 99 nations- 33 developed and 66 developing, and covered 93% of the world’s emissions and included 46 of the world’s top 50 emitters. When the Copenhagen Accord was signed in 2009, 426 climate change laws and policies were in place, and by the end of 2014, 804 were in place.
Key findings from the report included the following:
- The number of climate change laws and policies has doubled every 5 years since 1997
- 75 countries and the EU have framework laws or policies to address mitigation
- 64 countries have frameworks for adapting to the impacts of climate change
- Half of the countries have only minimal climate change risk assessments
Latvia’s chief negotiator Ilze Pruse was insistent that nations had to make deeper cuts every 5 years and that emissions have to get to zero in the last half of this century to in order to avert catastrophic and irreversible climate change.