Amid soaring temperatures and the direst warnings yet over the threat from global warming, nations were set to wrap up U.N. climate talks on Thursday with meager progress in the plan to avert climate disaster.
The annual U.N. negotiations in the German city of Bonn come in the midst of a Europe-wide heatwave and have exposed deep fissures between rich and developing countries on a number of contentious issues.
Here are three key takeaways from the talks:
Countries are devising ways of making good on what they promised in the 2015 Paris climate deal, which aims to limit global temperature rises to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 Farenheit).
A landmark report last year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that a safer cap of 1.5C rise would preferably see nations rapidly slash planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions via a sharp drawdown of fossil fuel use.
The Paris deal obligates nations to negotiate based on the “best available” science. But some high-polluting nations, led by Saudi Arabia, have questioned the IPCC’s findings, leading to angry exchanges in closed-door talks in Bonn.
Observers told AFP that the Saudi delegation reacted furiously to a suggested text proposed by moderators that welcomed the IPCC science. They said it also objected to the mention of specific IPCC emissions targets.
One draft text contained language proposed by Saudi and US delegations casting doubt on the IPCC’s findings and warned that such uncertainty could hamper decision-making at a political level.
The latest draft, seen by AFP, contains no mention of specific emissions targets and merely “noted” the heated debate.
Mohamed Adow, climate head at the Christian Aid campaign group, said the U.N. process must remain committed to forging policy based on the IPCC’s 1.5C aim.
“Our actions to tackle climate change must be informed by the best available science and the best available science is the IPCC report,” he said.
— Bloomberg (@business) June 27, 2019
One of the stickiest negotiating points of the Paris agreement is the article on how carbon markets are regulated and tracked.
Countries currently may sell emissions savings — say, from building a hydroelectric dam to reduce greenhouse gases from energy — to other nations to count towards their own national contribution to climate action.
The Paris agreement calls for a mechanism to guard against practices that could undermine efforts to limit emissions through trading schemes — including measures to ensure greenhouse gas savings are not double counted by both buying and selling nations.
A major bone of contention is also whether or not emissions credits accumulated by countries pre-Paris could be retained and cashed in in future.
Gry Bossen, policy and volunteer coordinator at Forests of the World, said the issue “could undermine the entire Paris Agreement if strong rules are not created”, preventing double counting and guaranteeing equity between rich and developing countries.
To achieve #ParisAgreement goals, companies need to drastically decarbonize their business. Yet despite its stated support, @BP_plc wants to drill for 30 million barrels of new oil! This must be held to account – actions speak louder than words. https://t.co/83Vh9GfHHj
— Al Gore (@algore) June 26, 2019
After months of growing protests and civil disobedience from citizens imploring governments to act over climate change, many observers said they were disappointed with the lack of progress in Bonn.
Another source of disunity between richer, big-emitting nations and the developing ones already dealing with the fallout from climate change, is how at-risk countries can be compensated.
So-called “loss and damage” funding was under review in Bonn, but there was no agreement on how to raise the cash.
It is thought that $300 billion will be needed annually by 2030 to help nations deal with climate-related disasters.
“Are we keeping the promise we made in Paris of standing in solidarity with people facing climate emergency now?” asked Harjeet Singh, global climate lead at ActionAid.