Even as CO2 concentrations are about to break the 400ppm threshold, fresh climate disasters are announced all over the planet, and carbon prices are collapsing because of lax targets on par with BAU, countries have apparently come to the UNFCCC ADP meeting in Bonn with nothing to offer.
Developed countries seem to be looking off in the distance beyond 2020, with images of universal participation and bottom-up national pledges dancing in their heads. Mundane issues like what has to change in the next 6 years and 8 months to stay below 2 degrees are apparently the farthest thing from their minds.
Parties are in Bonn to get down to work on two tasks – raise pre-2020 ambition and craft the next legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas pollution – potentially the most significant global treaty that will ever be negotiated. Delegates should be mindful of the fact that that your work this week and over the next few years will secure you a place in the history books.
Whether the legacy you leave behind is positive or abysmal depends on your creativity, commitment, negotiating skills and sheer hard craft. In short, you will have to be prepared to pull out all the stops. Our planet deserves no less.
Although negotiating a fresh climate deal for a new decade and beyond, Parties also need to address the less sexy issue of the yawning gap between the pledges that are currently on the table and the effort required to limit global temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Neither objective should be ignored to the detriment of the other.
Take heart from the fact that the more we achieve in terms of closing the gap over the next 6 or so years, the lighter that workload will be. And it would augur badly indeed if Parties entered into a new climate agreement with a huge ambition deficit.
One place parties can start making progress this year is on international transport. After failing to get any text in discussions under the Bali Action Plan, this year Parties can make a fresh start, by reaching agreement under the International Maritime Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization on a fast track to implementation of market-based measures for international maritime transport and aviation that can put a price on emissions from these sectors.
The ADP must take up this issue and ensure that these sectors make their fair contribution to global efforts to control emissions and generate finance for climate action in developing countries.
Action is needed on many fronts. As yesterday's opening statement by AOSIS laid out, “this is about political will.” Developed countries must have the will to take real action on curbing the continual increase in global temperatures or, let's face it, a new global deal won’t meet our agreed goal of staying below 2°C. So, developed country Parties, best shape up or head home.