photo credit: iisd reporting service.
Summary of the Current status/situation
We’re halfway through the Bonn climate talks and negotiators are now busy discussing a variety of issues in all sorts of spin-off groups and other venues, slowly but surely shaping a picture of where we are and what remains to be done ahead of Durban. Yes, indeed: a lot! Compared to the very stagnant start, however, the past couple of days could almost be called eventful – with workshops assessing details and methodologies underlying the emission targets put forward by developed and developing countries, as well as an emerging debate on whether an additional negotiating session will be planned between now and Durban. In October Bonn is supposed to be even lovelier than in June, but let’s see…
As expected, the Thursday workshop on pledges made by developed countries was a good opportunity for countries to ask others some tough questions – especially about the strength of their targets, the loopholes that undermine them, and the methodologies chosen to calculate them. Canada faced a range of questions and – as newswires put it – got some “diplomatic spanking”, as they could not convincingly explain how their pledged emission targets could constitute progress towards protecting the planet from climate chaos when they are even lower than what the country originally committed to under the Kyoto Protocol.
The EU made an effort to convince us that meeting a 20% reduction target by 2020 is hard work, which to many was incomprehensible given they have already reduced at least 16% and are likely to cut far more than 20% just by implementing measures that are already agreed. At least the EU also acknowledged the gigatonne gap between what countries are pledging and what we need for a safe climate future. This means that one purpose of these workshops has been fulfilled, as even the holy halls of the Maritim have now officially got word that we need to do more. So building on this, it would now then be a logical next step for parties to discuss strategies aimed at closing the gap. Despite the growing urgency to tackle climate change, however, this logic doesn’t appeal to all parties. The US, for example, didn’t think we should address the gap now, suggesting that this can wait for the review in 2015.
During the developing country presentations on Friday, many small countries took the floor to present bold actions they are ready to take to reduce their emissions, while many of the biggest emitters among developing countries did not. Hmmhh… AOSIS analysed the overall amount of emission reductions that developing country action would lead to. They noted that while it amounts to more than what developed countries have pledged, even developing countries can do far more to help close the gap. So no matter whether we look at developed or developing countries’ targets, the work must continue and countries should not only explain their targets but share the circumstances under which they can increase them as well as set concrete steps that ensure this happens.
And will there be a meeting between now and Durban, in Bonn, or elsewhere? Negotiators seem to agree that more work must get done ahead of Durban and that a meeting or a number of small meetings could happen in the fall. One suggestion was to have expert meetings rather than political negotiations. The reason for this suggestion is that apart from seeing progress on political discussions like the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol and overall legal package, countries need to iron out the details on guidelines for preparing long term emissions reductions plans, how funding and technological support would flow to actions and what types of actions get funded at all. Such technical discussions could best happen in expert meetings.
The nature of the upcoming meetings will also determine the level of NGO participation. At expert meetings it is likely that only a small number of NGO experts could participate and provide technical interventions as opposed to political negotiations such as the current round in Bonn. NGO participation is also a big issue here in Bonn as many meetings are closed to observers – something that’s being discussed between parties and NGOs in official contact groups. Parties keep saying that civil society interventions are usually constructive and helpful in moving debates forward. Maybe opening the doors would be a good idea?
What is happening?
Today is the 3-months anniversary of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan earlier this year. To mark the anniversary and speak up in the Japanese debate about climate policies and energy choices, thousands of protesters in Tokyo and elsewhere across the country have staged mass demonstrations against the use of nuclear power earlier today. Crowds of people banging drums and shouting anti-nuclear slogans poured through the streets of the capital and descended on the head offices of TEPCO, which operates the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
Company workers, students and parents with children on their shoulders also rallied at multiple demonstrations across Japan, carrying flags written with “No Nukes!” and “No More Fukushima!”. GCCA partners in Japan were involved in organizing these events and work hard to protect Japan’s 25% target for emission reductions by 2020 which is currently up for debate in the Japanese parliament – a debate which could have major implications for the UNFCCC negotiations. Making the link between the domestic and international debate, GCCA partners Kiko Network, Greenpeace and Oxfam also pulled together an op-ed co-authored by Oxfam and Greenpeace leaders Jeremy Hobbs and Kumi Naidoo which ran in the leading Japanese wire Kyodo yesterday.
As mentioned in the previous edition of the Daily Tck, Europe is another possible win this year, as GCCA partners try to push the EU to strengthens its 2020 target and go for 40% including at least 30% domestic efforts ahead of Minister and Head of State councils later this month. The Push Europe campaign by UKYCC and their allies is gaining strength (more about this next week), and the GCCA team is adding to this effort by drafting and placing a range of op-eds to add more progressive voices to the debate.
Focusing on these possible wins seems to be a good idea as Bonn negotiators are bogged down in details and could use some fresh momentum and positive dynamics, which is most likely to be a result of those decisions taken in capital cities around the world that we try to influence. However, to keep the pressure on negotiators here, a network of youth has been working on a mini-1.5˚C-campaign for the second week of this session that will see daily actions calling for greater levels of ambition in the face of a rapid increase in global emissions (more about this next week).
Message for the day
In light of huge public support for climate action and bold decisions taken in key EU member states it’s time for the whole bloc to strengthen its emission target for 2020 from currently 20% against 1990 levels to 40%. The EU has been sitting on the fence for too long; it’s time to show some serious leadership and create fresh momentum for success in Durban.
The EU should also pave the way for a stronger Kyoto Protocol by reaching out to major developing countries to secure a second commitment period – in order to also smooth the way for Japan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and others into more constructive roles as solutions and compromise are urgently needed to avoid a gap between commitment periods.
A lot depends on Japan and its commitment to cut emissions by 25% by 2020. In the wake of Fukushima, the country vowed to take a renewed look at its energy plans, which will also have consequences for its emission targets. Seizing the opportunity could make Japan’s economy fit for the future, but also raise hopes for a strengthened and improved Kyoto Protocol.
What you can do today?
Keep spreading the word about the Power Shift campaign by European youth networks and upload your green CV at: http://pusheurope.eu/
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About the authorChristian Teriete
Christian is the Communications Director at the GCCA where he thinks a lot about reframing climate change communications to grow the climate movement and strengthen the mandate for political action.