This year’s UN climate change negotiations kick off in Bonn next week, marking the beginning of an intense year of conferences and summits designed to lead to a meaningful, universal agreement in Paris in late 2015. The meeting (10 – 14 March) will include work towards the new global climate agreement, to enter into force from 2020, and work to find ways to boost immediate, effective climate action. „We are at the highest level of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere for the last 800,000 years and we have not yet started to bend that curve back down again – this is the urgency of the challenge,“ said the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres. „Just as climate change impacts are accelerating, 2014 needs to be a year of accelerated action and ambition to check the advance of climate change. Governments and business, cities and citizens are closer than ever to achieving the positive tipping points in economies and societies that get us to a low-carbon, high resilience future. We now need to fully harness those opportunities and that momentum.“
Despite increasingly inspiring actions by countries, cities, companies and citizens, assessments indicate that annual emissions could rise to more than 55 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2020, well in excess of the 44 gigatonnes level, which is broadly accepted as benchmark to put the planet on a pathway to limiting warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. There is already a wealth of evidence that reaching that benchmark level by 2020 is achievable with existing technologies and cost-effective policies that create jobs (see examples below).
Stepping up climate action before 2020
A central focus of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) meeting in Bonn will be to identify ways to ramp up national and international cooperative efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions for the period before 2020, after which the new agreement is to enter into force. Special attention will be given to translating the potential of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, and energy efficiency into concrete, action-oriented outcomes. „While renewable energy and energy efficiency are proven technologies, there are barriers to overcome in order to power-up a transformational de-carbonization of the world’s economy. I look forward to seeing governments, specialized organizations and other stakeholders build coalitions to realize this huge potential by overcoming barriers,“ Ms. Figueres said.
The 2015 Paris Agreement – getting down to work
A central task of the meeting will be to further elaborate elements for a draft universal 2015 climate agreement. The key functions of the new agreement will be curbing greenhouse gas emissions; adapting to the inevitable impacts of climate change; mobilizing the needed finance, technology, capacity-building support to developing countries; and transparency of action and support in the period after 2020. „Governments have agreed to begin putting forward formal contributions as of March 2015. In just over 9 months, the first draft of a 2015 global climate agreement will be on the table for discussion at the next annual UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru. Most of the negotiated content of the Paris agreement needs to be ready by COP 20 in Lima, and we need to reach a common understanding of how individual components of this new agreement will operate for that to happen,“ said Christiana Figueres.
At the March meeting, governments will begin to identify the information that they will provide when putting forward their nationally determined contributions. In some cases, determining these contributions is well underway. In other cases the process has not yet begun. In Bonn, frontrunner governments will present how they are preparing their contributions. Developed countries, along with multilateral organizations in a position to do so, have been asked to support developing countries‘ efforts to determine their contributions. Ms. Figueres said it was increasingly clear that a global solution to the complex set of risks posed by climate change requires action from all groups: governments at every level, private sector and investors, and civil society.
Leaders to provide guidance
A key meeting this year designed to build momentum for the Paris agreement will be a summit convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The summit will be a key opportunity for governments, but also businesses, cities and regions to come forward with announcements.
„2014 is the year when intention must translate into action. The world is rich with inspiring and practical solutions to the dilemma of decoupling growth and economic activity from unsustainable levels of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that harm human health, perpetuate poverty and put our collective future at risk. Excellent examples of action show it is within our reach to create a safer future,“ UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said. „At the ADP meeting in Bonn, nations can learn from each other how best to fast track, scale up and accelerate a transition to a low carbon economy that will help make Paris 2015 the success it needs to be for seven billion people, rising to more than nine billion by 2050,“ said Ms. Figueres.
Key Examples from UNFCCC report
The full set of options that governments negotiating under the ADP umbrella have identified to increase immediate climate ambition are summarized in the UNFCCC document „Updated compilation of information on mitigation benefits of actions, initiatives and options to enhance mitigation ambition“. It can be found here. Additionally, select inspiring examples, such as ISO’s energy management standards, will be showcased here before and during the ADP meeting. See also the latest UNFCCC newsletter in English and Spanish.
About the UNFCCC
With 195 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties. For the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. In Doha in 2012, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which establishes the second commitment period under the Protocol. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
Read the release on the UNFCCC website