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Message from Bonn: The World is Committed to Climate Action and Paris Agreement

Countries show that progress will not be deterred by shifting political winds in any one country

by Yamide Dagnet, Eliza Northrop, Cynthia Elliott, Kathleen Mogelgaard, Joe Thwaites, and Rhys Gerholdt

Climate negotiations just concluded in Bonn demonstrated that countries are fully committed to continue global climate action and implement the Paris Agreement. During the two-week meeting, delegates made important progress on an outline for a detailed rulebook (also known as implementation guidelines) for the Paris Agreement and started building a process for countries to take stock of progress, highlight opportunities for action, and create a springboard for enhanced action. Delegates are now well-positioned to deliver a first draft of the negotiating text by the end of the UN climate summit in November, with the aim of adopting the guidelines in 2018.

photo of Bonn Climate TalksPhoto by UNClimateChange Delegates are on track to finalize guidelines for the Paris Agreement by 2018.

Uncertainty about continued US participation in the Paris Agreement did not slow progress in Bonn. If anything, countries were emboldened to move forward and show that international climate action will not be deterred by the shifting political winds in any one country.

The steady progress made in Bonn showed these two weeks was evidence of countries’ commitment to deliver on the progress made at the climate summit in Marrakech last year and finalize the guidelines for the Paris Agreement by the 2018 meeting in Poland, known as COP24.

Designing the Guidelines

At Bonn, countries set out key issues in accounting for finance that countries have provided and mobilized. They also discussed various ways the Adaptation Fund could serve the Paris Agreement and the necessary steps to make this happen. There was progress on developing guidance for regularly communicating adaptation efforts and fruitful discussions on reporting emissions and financial support. Negotiations advanced on how to establish a committee to facilitate implementation and promote compliance with the Paris Agreement. Delegates also continued to work through the complicated issues involved in designing a global stocktake (when countries gather every five years to assess progress thus far) that includes all core elements including mitigation, adaptation and finance. There was also clear recognition that all of the elements of the Paris Agreement are linked, and that understanding and mapping these linkages to develop a framework that is coherent and mutually reinforcing is essential to ensure the Paris Agreement reaches its full potential.

The Paris Committee on Capacity Building met for the first time in Bonn. They consulted with stakeholders on how to address the lack of tools, technical expertise and organizational and institutional capacity in developing countries to both contribute to the design of the implementation guidelines and deliver on their climate commitments. The committee agreed on a comprehensive work program to guide and foster sustainable capacity building.

Facilitative Dialogue to Help Take Stock

Countries made progress in discussions about the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018 (FD 2018), when countries will take stock of progress toward the Paris goals and highlight opportunities for stronger action. This can create a springboard effect by providing the motivation and confidence needed to enhance countries’ climate commitments (their Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs) by 2020.

Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, the new chief negotiator from Fiji, the incoming COP Presidency, is overseeing the FD 2018 process, and introduced the Fijian concept of Talanoa to advance the discussions. Talanoa, Khan said, is a meaningful and rich conversation to share ideas, strengthen relationships, and resolve problems. Bonn negotiators embraced the idea that the FD 2018 should be a process that must take place before and during COP24, rather than simply a moment for ministers to share statements at the climate summit. There is also an increasing sense that non-state actors such as cities and business can make important contributions and should play a role in the FD 2018 process.

Progress and Lessons Learned

A Bonn highlight was hearing from countries about progress made in curbing emissions and building resilience to climate impacts, along with lessons learned. Eighteen developed countries and seven developing countries took part in their respective peer review processes: multilateral assessment for the former, facilitative sharing of views for the latter. Countries managed to clarify assumptions, understand methodologies, and to learn more about policies and measures underway. Canada highlighted its efforts on carbon pricing and clean tech innovation. India explained how it took advantage of the plummeting price of solar panels to expand solar capacity by 81 percent last year. France confirmed it is on track to surpass its 2020 targets. Morocco highlighted its large clean energy projects. The United States explained that while its climate policies are currently under review, emissions have fallen in recent years as the economy continues to grow.

Next Up: G7 Summit

The next opportunity to show global leadership on climate change is the G7 Summit in Italy May 26-27. After positive discussions in Bonn and an outpouring of support for the Paris Agreement from businesses, cities, and governments, climate change will be an important topic of discussion. The Paris Agreement raised the bar for what is considered strong climate language at these international gatherings, becoming a barometer for leaders to assess each other and to be assessed by their own citizens. Climate change has been a priority in every G7 and G8 communique over the last decade. G7 leaders must stick to that tradition and add to the momentum towards a more prosperous, climate-resilient world.

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