It’s a German double whammy this June: a Bonn UNFCCC session 1st-11th and the G7 on the 7th-8th. Countries are well on the way to submitting their iNDCs (i.e. their nationally determined contributions to the agreement) and attention is turning to other elements of the global climate agreement expected to land at COP21 in Paris. Bonn is set to be a very procedural session all about streamlining the text but in parallel the G7 is gearing up to go big on climate.
A zero emission backbone
We expect to see the influential G7 countries calling for a long-term decarbonisation goal. This bold step marks the first time that countries have officially called for a goal to operationalise the 2 degree obligation. In doing so they will send a strong and positive signal that the G7 are taking their responsibilities seriously and listening to their citizens and businesses.
In Bonn the phase-out goal can begin forming the backbone to the agreement’s architecture. The text will need to clearly lay out the architecture that connects a long-term goal to a dynamic process of shorter commitment periods which secure emissions phase-out over time. This arrangement is often referred to as a ratchet mechanism. This policy will deliver a durable and global means to check on and reliably facilitate progress towards decarbonisation informed by science and reporting every 5 years.
Adaptation and Climate Risk
The recommendations of a G7 commissioned report ‘a new climate for peace’ were kicked into the long grass at the G7 foreign ministers meeting. This was a huge missed opportunity to get a credible plan for how the global community could address climate impacts with the gravity they deserve. It’s unlikely this will resurface at the G7 heads level and as a result developed countries ability to walk the talk when discussing adaptation in Bonn will continue to be undermined.
Since Lima, the EU has been adamant that adaptation should be treated equally to mitigation. But this has not been substantiated with new policies. Bonn marks an important moment for Europe to contribute to this agenda and support a discussion that goes beyond focusing on finance. In Bonn the parties can begin considering the necessary structural shifts to make international institutions and processes fit for purpose in a warming world.
Progress on the $100bn is a pre-condition for success in Paris and the G7 know it. They will hopefully make some headway in resolving the $100bn challenge by setting out a process moving forward. The decarbonisation goal announced by the G7 should also give more certainty to those making decisions on their investment portfolios about the future direction of travel.
For Bonn it will be important that not only climate finance (the specific funds used to finance climate actions) is dealt with, but that the broader shifts in investment patterns are initiated through a Paris outcome. This means more work in the text to articulate how we will benchmark all public investments against a long-term phase out of fossil fuels.
Differentiation and legal form
As Paris approaches deciding what should be in or out of the core legal instrument will be a hot topic of discussion. Both the legal form and the types of commitments taken on (i.e. economy wide, voluntary finance, common accounting standards) are crucial to understanding how we explain fairness. To date, the negotiations in the run up to Paris have not seen a consistent approach to fairness, and instead countries are cherry picking where they take responsibility and where they do not – this must change. The G7 should begin by demonstrating their intent to take responsibility and showcase the steps being taken to go first and fastest.
It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks!