The May 2017 cli­mate talks in Bonn involved prepara­to­ry talks for the main cli­mate sum­mit tak­ing plac­ing in Novem­ber. Anna Braam, spokesper­son for the FRFG’s board, and Anna Hal­big, an FRFG ambas­sador, took part along with sev­en oth­er young adults. The object of the talks was the imple­men­ta­tion of the Paris Agree­ment — an impor­tant mile­stone in the his­to­ry of efforts to com­bat cli­mate change. The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty agreed for the first time to lim­it the aver­age increase in the earth’s sur­face tem­per­a­ture to 2°c. But 2015 only decid­ed the goal, the what. The point now was to agree upon how this goal can be achieved.


The Mood

Del­e­gates had been affect­ed by the US administration’s announce­ment that it was con­sid­er­ing pulling out of the Paris Agree­ment. We were all under the impres­sion that the final deci­sion was going to be tak­en on the sec­ond day of nego­ti­a­tions, but then it was post­poned until the end of May, after the G7 sum­mit. There was a very light US pres­ence at the nego­ti­a­tions. The Viet­namese del­e­ga­tion of 14, for exam­ple, was twice as large as that of the US. Trump’s announce­ment had an unex­pect­ed con­se­quence, how­ev­er. Coun­tries were unit­ed in resolve and did not fall into uncer­tain­ty-induced res­ig­na­tion. A new alliance encom­pass­ing more than half of the world’s coun­tries — EU mem­bers as well as devel­op­ing nations in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacif­ic (the ACP states) – was announced on the last day of nego­ti­a­tions. The EU also promised €800 mil­lion in aid for ACP mem­bers affect­ed by cli­mate change. Trump’s announce­ment led to new lev­els of coop­er­a­tion and deter­mi­na­tion, over­com­ing the pre­vi­ous divi­sion between between devel­oped and devel­op­ing countries.

An EU-Com­mis­sion­er, Cañete, told the US that the Paris Agree­ment was “irre­versible and non-nego­tiable”. While the US is con­tin­u­ing to (or more accu­rate­ly, once again) sup­port­ing the coal indus­try, India and Chi­na are prov­ing to be new pio­neers, even exceed­ing their targets.


The Results

This round of nego­ti­a­tions in Bonn was very tech­ni­cal and most­ly revolved around the ques­tion of adap­tion to cli­mate change and less­en­ing its effects. There was some progress, e.g. with work­ing out the details of ‘Facil­i­ta­tive Dia­logues’ that should exam­ine whether coun­tries’ self-imposed goals are com­pat­i­ble with the two-degree goal of the Paris Agree­ment and thus whether they need to be strength­ened. Coun­tries will only be able to actu­al­ly see if their goals need to be more ambi­tious or not once the organ­i­sa­tion­al details of these Facil­i­ta­tive Dia­logues are set out. This is (still) expect­ed to be forth­com­ing as are funds for pay­ing for mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures. The funds set out in the Kyoto Pro­to­col for this pur­pose should also sup­port the imple­men­ta­tion of goals relat­ed to the Paris Agree­ment – that is the plan, at least. Many coun­tries would not able to muster even rel­a­tive­ly small sums of mon­ey for financ­ing such projects with­out more con­crete steps in this area. We are still wait­ing for firm com­mit­ments and reg­u­la­tions. The top­ic should be tak­en up again from the mid­dle of October.


Contributions from FRFG delegates

Our work in Bonn focussed on “Action for Cli­mate Empow­er­ment”, or ACE. This involves edu­ca­tion about and rais­ing aware­ness of cli­mate change. Arti­cle 6 of the 1992 UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change first pro­vid­ed for these mea­sures which made lat­er appear­ances in the 2012 Doha Work Pro­gramme and Arti­cle 12 of the Paris Agree­ment. The UN refers to this for simplicity’s sake as ACE. It com­pris­es six pil­lars: edu­ca­tion, train­ing, pub­lic aware­ness, pub­lic access to infor­ma­tion, pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion and inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion. Each coun­try devel­ops nation­al pro­grammes for each of the six ele­ments and one per­son in the del­e­ga­tion or envi­ron­men­tal min­istry of each coun­try is expect­ed to be an ACE con­tact per­son. FRFG del­e­gates are work­ing to devel­op a com­pendi­um of best prac­tice, demands and sug­ges­tions for imple­men­ta­tion along with the ACE work­ing-group of YOUNGO, the body of UN youth rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Anoth­er of our con­cerns – apart from fol­low­ing the nego­ti­a­tions them­selves – was organ­is­ing the thir­teenth Con­fer­ence of Youth or COY (link in Ger­man) which will take place in Bonn from the 2nd to the 4th Novem­ber 2017, short­ly before the COP23 UN cli­mate sum­mit. 500 to 700 are expect­ed to attend.

That pos­es a big logis­ti­cal chal­lenge. Rooms for work­shops and con­fer­ences have to be found, accom­mo­da­tion, bud­gets and speak­ers have to be found in advance. The FRFG del­e­gates Julius Schlum­berg­er, Simon Lange and Luja von Köck­ritz intro­duced COY in a press con­fer­ence at the negotiations.


More Information

You can find out more about Anna Braam’s and Anna Halbig’s work at the con­fer­ence on the Kli­madel­e­ga­tion blog (link in Ger­man).