Breaking News

Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, January 22, 2018


What actually happened at the Bonn climate conference - and why it matters


Share on Facebook November 18, 2017, Reporter : DW, Reader : 459


Two weeks, 25,000 people, late-night compromise: This year's UN climate talks were more process than results. But important threads emerged — at official negotiations as well as on the sidelines. And, there's still hope!

In DW's coverage of COP23 in Bonn, we asked whether the conference was worth the effort. We looked behind the scenes, among other things at lobbying. And we even called it a circus.

This year's United Nations climate summit — which took place literally in our backyard here in Bonn, Germany — was sprawling physically, far-ranging topically, and, especially for the public, hard to get a handle on.

Technically, these two weeks were all about the "rule book": if the Paris Agreement is the climate constitution, then the rule book represents the laws and regulations that will implement it.

But the end result, the goal of the Paris Agreement, is to limit the Earth's temperature rise to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). So, will we make it?

Significant steps were made toward this end — in the official talks, as much as on the sidelines. Discussion, both in the negotiating rooms and outside, kept returning to a few key points.

Preventing 2 degrees

One is ambition — that is, how greenhouse gas emission cuts can be made more deeply and more quickly.

Climate experts keep reminding us: There's only a window of about a decade left for the world's nations to decarbonize their economies, before we've blown our carbon budget and the limit of a 1.5 degree Celsius temperature increase — or even 2 degrees — will no longer be possible.

(Sonya Angelica Diehn is DW's Environment Team Leader)

For island-state host Fiji and many developing nations hard-hit by climate change, the lower limit of 1.5 degrees Celcius remained the main goal.

Discussion centered particularly on how to increase ambition before 2020, when the Kyoto Protocol expires and the Paris Agreement is set to be implemented.

Key to this was the so-called Talanoa Dialogue. And a significant step here is that United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was tasked with bringing ambition forward before COP24 in Poland next year.

Before COP21 in Paris, Ban Ki-Moon similarly achieved success — so signs are good.


Rounding up the money

The second keyword is finance. If the world's nations need to quickly decarbonize, who will pay for this?

There's broad consensus that since the wealth of industrialized countries is based on the historical burning of fossil fuels, they're responsible for not only decarbonizing their own economies but also for helping out the rest of the world.

Before COP23, only $10 billion had been pledged to the Green Climate Fund, which is used for "adaptation and mitigation" — to pay for both managing the impacts of climate change, and for transforming energy systems and otherwise reducing emissions.

Starting in 2020, industrial nations aim to spend $100 billion (€85 billion) a year for climate action in poorer countries.

But the "finance gap" is a looming threat to implementing the Paris Agreement. At COP23, developing nations sought commitments on climate finance

So it is a significant development that in Bonn, financiers have now named a sum of $60 billion. (Although nongovernmental groups remain skeptical of that figure, and say that really, only $20 billion have been committed.)

In an eleventh-hour compromise, industrialized countries conceded that the Adaptation Fund from the Kyoto Protocol, worth about $330 million, could become a part of the Paris Agreement.

This came, however, in exchange for not including contentious "loss and damage" as part of the agreement. That's compensation for the irreparable, most destructive impacts of climate change, which developing countries had sought. 


Sending a signal on fossil fuels

Coal was in special focus at the 23rd climate summit in Bonn.

On the Saturday before the summit started, up to 25,000 people marched in Bonn, demanding an end to the use of coal — particularly in Germany, where it makes up almost half of the energy mix.

Activists also briefly shut down the Hambach coal mine , only 50 kilometers (31 miles) away from Bonn, to send a signal. Brown coal from Hambach makes up the single largest CO2 emissions source in Europe.

In her speech at COP23, German Chancellor Angela Merkel  acknowledged the need for a coal exit — even though Germany is in a tricky situation on that since there's still no government. Coalition talks following the federal elections in September have been going on for weeks.

At the climate conference, I kept hearing people say: Enough vague goals, we need concrete steps.

One such concrete step is the pledge of 20 nations toward a phase-out of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. Even though most of these countries have low coal use, this is the correct signal: Coal is the fuel of the past, renewables are the future. 


Climate action

Last but not least, this climate summit saw an unprecedented upswelling on the part of local and regional governments, along with businesses, to bring climate action forward.

Although the official United States delegation was minimal — and clung to coal — the unofficial US delegation came through with a resounding "we are still in."

Around the world, mayors, governors and businesses are responding to pressure from civil society to do their part in keeping the world habitable.

The hope is that 2018 can be the year of climate action; the year we turn off the path of climate catastrophe.

For this, we're being reminded that we can only tackle climate change by working as communities — and by changing our own behavior.

Although we're edging closer to the cliff, the good news is: It's still not too late.

Are you also in?

With Courtesy DW

More Euro Asia news of the month

Photos Here’s how Facebook will access trustworthy news on its feed

CALIFORNIA, U.S. - In a bid to crack down on a problem that has gripped the world’s biggest social network for over a year now,...

Photos Thousands mark anniversary of Women’s March across America

WASHINGTON, U.S. - A year after millions of women demonstrated in Washington, DC and in cities around the U.S. and the world, a day...

Photos Media, analysts outraged, amused by Trump’s Fake News awards

WASHINGTON, U.S. - After several delays, U.S. President Donald Trump finally released his Fake News Awards, tweeting out a list of...

Photos Trump denies crude comments, Africa vows diplomatic protest

Despite repeated denials from both himself and his administration, the U.S. President Donald Trump repeated his claim that he is not a...

Photos MLK Day: Protesters criticize Trump as he breaks tradition

FLORIDA, U.S. - U.S. President Donald Trump marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day breaking with Presidential tradition, visiting his golf...

Photos Trump's shithole scandal: World leaders call Trump a racist

While the U.S. President Donald Trump has outrightly denied making derogatory comments about certain countries and immigrants from those...

Photos Trump likely to impose new set of sanctions targeting Iran

WASHINGTON, U.S. - U.S. President Donald Trump is widely expected to continue to suspend key sanctions on Iran, eventually avoiding...

Photos Trump open to talks with Kim Jong Un on nuclear weapons

WASHINGTON, U.S. - After shunning him as the little rocket man, now the U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed interest in holding...

Photos Stars shine bright as white takes over at #CriticsChoice awards

Golden Globes kicked off the 2018 award season in style and it is quickly being followed by another big star-studded event honouring the...

Flying Reimagined

Stock Index

Monday, January 22, 2018

Life Style

Photo Gallery