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