New UN climate text due in July as Bonn progress taken on trust

Published 01:51 on June 12, 2015  /  Last updated at 13:20 on July 5, 2017  /  Climate Talks, International, REDD  /  No Comments

The co-chairs of negotiations on a new UN climate pact will prepare a slimmed down text next month to help jolt the process following two weeks of scant tangible progress at talks in Bonn.
  • More trust, but scant progress on main text
  • Technical talks on markets to resume after Paris
  • REDD text ready, route to credits unclear

The co-chairs of negotiations on a new UN climate pact will prepare a slimmed down text next month to help jolt the process following two weeks of scant tangible progress at talks in Bonn.

The UNFCCC is working towards a global deal to bind all emitters from 2020 around national contributions, a mechanism to ensure those pledges collectively reduce emissions by enough to limit global warming to 2C, and provide hundreds of billions of dollars to help poorer nations tackle climate change.

Parties had been tasked with trimming a 90-page document over the ten-day negotiations, but the meeting ended on Thursday with a working version just five pages shorter.

France’s ambassador for climate change, Laurence Tubiana, who will steer the process towards a final deal at the December Paris conference, insisted the Bonn session had been useful to allow all 195 nations feel they were part of the process.

“It’s about trust, trust, trust. With this, there is no issue we cannot solve,” she told reporters.

A changed work structure of smaller break-out sessions around each issue has markedly improved relations compared to the procedural bickering that marred the talks last year, said Jonathan Grant of consultancy PwC, representing business association IETA.

“The fact that parties allowed the co-chairs to write a new text is evidence that there is more trust in the process,” he said.

TALKS LAG BEHIND

Observers had expected little of substance to emerge from the main track of the meeting as officials lack the authority to relinquish their hard-fought options and wording in the paper.

“Negotiations on substance are still lagging behind the political will we see outside (the UNFCCC),” said the EU’s delegation leader Elina Bardram, referring in particular to this week’s G7 agreement and the recent spate of national pledges.

The EU and the bloc of Least Developed Countries urged the co-chairs to publish the new text earlier than the planned July 24 date.

They said this would allow ministers to discuss it at an informal meeting in Paris on July 20-21, after which they could mandate officials to whittle down text at later official sessions.

There are two week-long UNFCCC sessions ahead of the main December meeting, one from Aug. 31 to Sep. 4, the next from Oct. 19-23.

MARKET TALKS OVER

Technical work on carbon markets made no formal progress, offering no guidance on how the growing global patchwork of national and regional market-based mechanisms will fit into a future international climate framework.

Parties opted to postpone work on the Framework for Various Approaches and New Market-Based Mechanism to the Bonn session in June next year, skipping the December Paris talks entirely.

“It was felt that there were so many other issues to be tackled in Paris that there wouldn’t be time, which was disappointing,” said PwC’s Grant.

He said several options for how the Paris deal will include the use of markets remain in the main negotiating text and will be discussed at the December summit.

A long-gridlocked section of the talks to reform the CDM made no decisions and agreed to resume in December, with parties and observers invited to submit further views by Sep. 21.

REDD VOID

A technical body was tasked in Bonn with completing the few outstanding items on a standardised list of recommendations for developing countries to include in their REDD plans when seeking funding to protect tropical forests. It finished its work two days early, bucking the trend of slow progress elsewhere.

Its agreed text brought to an end ten years of negotiations and was hailed as a significant breakthrough by observers, although the guidance was dubbed “minimal” by the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group, a civil society coalition.

It paves the way for REDD+ to be included in any climate change deal that would hopefully be agreed in Paris, said Rachel Mountain of the Global Canopy Programme, a UK-based think tank on safeguarding tropical forests.

“There will be ever more scrutiny on whether REDD finance will be sufficient to address the deforestation challenge,” she said.

The agreement caps a breakthrough deal at the 2013 Warsaw UN climate conference that passed a series of resolutions to pave the way for REDD’s eventual use as a source of offset credits for regulated markets and to encourage richer nations to donate cash to kick-start REDD initiatives.

Public funding has dominated REDD so far, with governments contributing around 90% of $9 billion pledged to date to halt tropical deforestation responsible for around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Countries hoping to access those funds are expected to publish a national REDD strategy, create a monitoring system for projects and provide information such as how local communities are involved and biodiversity preserved.

Many parties and observers recognise that government funding is insufficient but the outlook for the private sector is unclear.

No industrialised nation has yet included provisions for REDD to help meet their INDC mitigation commitment, leaving developers to seek out alternative interim sources of funding for their REDD credits, such as a future round of the World Bank’s Pilot Auction Facility, the Green Climate Fund or demand from the aviation sector’s global offsetting scheme due from 2020.

By Ben Garside -ben@carbon-pulse.com

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