Bonn, Again

As the world hurtles ever faster towards complete ecological breakdown, international climate change negotiations resume this week in Bonn, Germany, and members of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice are here to do what they do best: demand climate justice.

A bit of background…

After 3 years of negotiations, countries finally agreed to a set of (almost) comprehensive guidelines to implement the Paris Agreement during the COP24 session, held last December in Katowice, Poland.  

Trying to make sense of #COP24? This is how #climatejustice spokespeople have reacted: https://t.co/HNPdegk8tD— Demand Climate Justice (@gcdcj) December 15, 2018

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) sets the bar for what climate action looks like globally, nationally, and in many ways locally. Holding governments to account in this process hinges on demands being delivered back “home”.

Thankfully a burgeoning global climate justice movement is beginning to bring together various strategies of articulating and realising alternative visions for the world, electoral politics, and targeting the corporate polluters by exposing their financial support, their social license, their infrastructure, and their political connections.

However, even though most of the Paris Rulebook is complete, there is still a lot of detail to work on in the negotiations and a long way to go before actions match rhetoric.

The road ahead

This session – SB50 – marks 25 years of meetings of the subsidiary bodies to the UNFCCC and the start of the post-Paris process of ratcheting up the national targets. At this session parties will consult on what will be a political outcome to increase ambition. 2019 – 2020 is a critical period for countries to focus on ratcheting up their existing climate action plans to deliver the scale of climate action needed – through international finance, technology transfer, and capacity building on an unprecedented scale to enable all countries to reduce emissions to zero as quickly as possible, with richer countries taking the lead on emissions cuts in the region of 80-90% by 2030.

The next step is the UN Secretary General Climate Action Summit in New York in September, where only countries who put forward more ambitious national plans are invited to speak. Will this be an empty stage? Given that ambition can be defined as action on adaptation, and on increased support for action in other countries, there is plenty of scope for countries to turn up in September with increased ambition, in all its forms, including actions that are conditional on support being given.

At COP25 in Chile this December there will be a final effort to take stock of climate action being done in the pre-2020 period. Developed countries have ignored this critical period since 2012, when they agreed the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which obliged them to make aggregate emission cuts that would be at least 18 per cent below 1990 levels. The Doha Amendment has not come into effect due to a failure by many developed countries to ratify it in their national parliaments.

In Chile countries are expected to arrive at a political outcome to enhance their pledges under the Paris Agreement (pledges which only apply after 2030).

Next, at the COP in 2020, countries must deliver long-term (2050) low greenhouse gas emission development strategies, as well as new and enhanced national pledges that are in line with the science for a pathway to 1.5C. This means the emissions reductions, adaptation, and support pledged must put us on a trajectory to zero emissions, well before 2050, and with richer countries completely phasing out all fossil fuels by the 2030s.

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