ECO’s (Che)easy Guide to Success in Bonn

3 June 2013

The year is not even halfway through and we have already seen devastating floods in Argentina and the melting of Arctic sea ice being linked to not only Australia's harshest ever summer, where they needed new colours to define “hot” on the map, but also a frozen spring in Europe. Climate impacts like these were hitting all corners of the planet, as carbon pollution in the atmosphere pushed through the landmark of 400 parts per million – levels the world has not seen for millions of years.

And here we are in Bonn again to work out how to get those levels down, not up. With as few as five sessions left before we need to agree to a comprehensive climate plan in 2015, it is high time to roll up our sleeves, put on hold short term interests and work together to refocus the planet away from burning destructive fossil fuels and onto a path to a safe future.

Delegates – you are going to have to earn your Maritim cheese sandwiches! As much remains to be done before COP19 in Warsaw. You need to continue the good work started last month by mapping out the structural and technical elements of the 2015 climate plan to be captured in a draft decision at Warsaw, whilst committing to concrete steps to increase ambition before 2020.


At the Bonn meeting in April, equity took centre stage. Parties seem to recognize at last that there won't be any ambitious 2015 deal without equity (and no equity without an ambitious 2015 deal). ECO is pleased that the ADP co-chairs, in the informal note on the last Bonn session that contained their reflections of the perceived common ground on Workstream 1, have confirmed the “the principles of the Convention will apply and need no reinterpretation in the 2015 agreement.” This is, for ECO, of course a very important common ground that ADP 2 needs to build on.

It should not be forgotten in the myriad of issues that the Parties need to push in this session to agree to an international mechanism to deal with communities and cultures that will suffer from irretrievable loss as a result of climate change.

Short Term Ambition

Current mitigation commitments have us on a catastrophic 4 degree pathway. Clearly, raising ambition before 2020 must be a priority. And International Cooperative Initiatives are no replacement for increased mitigation and finance pledges. And 2014 is the year for your increased ambition to shine – the KP Ministerial Roundtable next year should be an opportunity for all developed Parties – not just KP Parties – to increase their current, embarrassingly low levels of ambition. And Ban Ki-moon’s Summit likewise offers a good opportunity for developed countries to increase commitments, and developing countries to increase pledges.  Of course this will require facilitation by additional means of implementation for developing countries, which is meagre at this time.

The first volume of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report in September will provide the perfect backdrop for such an increase in ambition, as well, of course, for quality input into the First Periodical Review.  

The AOSIS proposal on energy efficiency and renewable energy deserves significant attention at this Bonn session. It calls for technical level workshops on implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency-based mitigation options here in Bonn, followed by a submission process and a ministerial meeting at Warsaw, offering plenty of opportunity for countries to consider how clean technology can drive an increase in their pledges. There are, indeed, no shortage of ideas on how countries could increase their ambition. (The UNFCCC technical paper on short term ambition reductions offers a whole range of ideas on how short term pollution reductions could be achieved.) All in all, the conditions look promising for 2014 to be the year of short term ambition increase for all. 

Market mechanisms

Carbon markets will be an important topic: Both the CDM and JI are scheduled to undergo reform. The CDM needs to phase out project types that are clearly not additional (large power, for example) and ban project types that are clearly harmful, such as coal power. Human rights need to be respected by all projects. JI, the troubled brother of the CDM, needs much stricter rules, period. The over 95% of JI credits that have been issued under track 1 lack transparency and integrity, to put it politely.

Why we would want to increase the supply of market units by creating new mechanisms is still a bit curious, given that current prices for CDM and JI credits are at 20 Euro cent. Nevertheless, Parties will discuss new market mechanisms (NMM) and a FVA (Framework for Various Approaches). Ensuring quality through clear and conservative rules, international oversight and comprehensive tracking and accounting rules are key.

Never will so many delegates pay so much for Maritim cheese sandwiches. And we don’t mean in Euros (though we all pay quite a bit for them as it is) – we are talking about the sweat on your iPads. ECO expects you to draft decision text for the Warsaw Finance Ministerial, outlining a pathway, including mid term targets, to get to the US$100 billion by 2020. And delegates, the time has come, as the walrus said, to speak of many things.  Including where, how and when finance fits under Workstream 1. In order to ensure that sufficient means of implementation are assured to support the level of mitigation and adaptation ambition necessary for the 2015 agreement, these discussions must begin soon.

Much more is needed, of course; expect a few more recipes for success over the next 2 weeks. But for now, all this typing is making ECO hungry…

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