Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bonn Climate Talks Clear the Way for a Global Climate Deal at COP21

Despite a bevy of doubters we have never had more reason to hope that we will be able to secure a global climate deal at COP21 later this year. The optimism is due to concessions made by wealthy nations and the unprecedented clarity of the most recent climate talks. We now have the basis to negotiate an international agreement in December thanks to progress made at the tenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP). These meetings took place in Bonn, Germany from August 31 to September 4, 2015.

According to UNFCCC press release we are now, "on track to produce the first comprehensive draft of the new, universal climate change agreement that governments are committed to reach in Paris, in December."

The positive outlook was buoyed by a compromise from the US and Europe on the difficult issue of loss and damage. Finding a solution to this problem had proven elusive up until now. This means that wealthy nations will assist poorer nations with the costs associated with climate change including extreme weather. The costs of weather related events now total hundreds of billions of dollars each year and that figure is expected to grow as the climate continues to warm.

"I am very encouraged," said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres in the UN press release. "This session has yet again proven that all countries are moving in the direction of progress and all agree that Paris is the final destination for the new universal agreement."

We must now find a specific pathway to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The next step will involve drawing up a draft that will "present clear options and ways forward." The draft is due to be released at the next and last meeting of the ADP on October 19 - 23 in Bonn. The ultimate goal is to secure a global agreement by the end of the year in Paris. A successful outcome for the COP21 conference is a universal agreement that will enable us to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times. The agreement will go into effect in 2020.

By no means are we out of the tunnel, but we can see a faint light that had not been clearly visible until now.

According to ADP Co-Chair Daniel Reifsnyder, who is also the man who will be putting together the draft for the October meeting, "we will be able to negotiate the Paris package in a single drafting committee."

After decades of negotiations 2015 may very well go down in history as the year that we reached a comprehensive climate agreement.

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