“Keep Emissions at Bay”: Bonn Climate Change Conference

(Image Courtesy: Net Wave Systems)

As the second week of talks at the Bonn Climate Change Conference gets underway, some 200 country delegates remain far from agreeing on a rulebook to implement the Paris Agreement, the historic accord signed in 2015 to reduce remissions and keep the worst effects of climate change at bay.

The rulebook is central to the discussions because it outlines how the targets agreed upon under the Paris Agreement will be achieved. Overall, delegations said that each item in the rulebook needs to be urgently discussed, although they cannot seem to agree on how to pick up the pace.

Green Campaigners’ Call

Jens Mattias Clausen, campaigner for Greenpeace Nordic, said 2018 is a crucial year in the planet’s fight against climate change, but without increasing the ambition levels of existing targets and putting in place a robust set of rules on how to achieve them, the world is headed towards a 3 degrees Celsius of global warming. This is far above the 1.5 and 2 degree Celsius goals set out in the Paris Agreement.

Polluter Stays

Fossil fuel companies are still welcome at UN climate talks, for now. Talks on developing a conflict of interest policy ended on Tuesday with a mandate for more talks next time.

After a huddle between Ecuador, Cuba and the Africa group, who advocate such a policy and the US, EU, Canada, Norway and Australia who don’t, they agreed to identify opportunities “to further enhance the openness, transparency, inclusiveness of the effective engagement of non-party stakeholders”.

Jesse Bragg of Corporate Accountability said, “Despite repeated attempts from the US and others to eliminate any reference to the discussion that parties engaged in for six days, governments were successful in ensuring that the destructive role of big polluters remains front and center in the negotiations.”

IMO Strategy

IMO has reported on the recent landmark adoption of an initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships at the Bonn Climate Change Conference (30 April-10 May). IMO’s Edmund Hughes informed the opening of the plenary session that the vision set out in the strategy confirms IMO’s commitment to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping and, as a matter of urgency, to phasing them out as soon as possible in this century.

Hughes also highlighted further progress on related matters, including entry into force of mandatory requirements for the collection and reporting of ship fuel oil consumption data and the official launch of the Global Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCC) Network. IMO is reporting to the forty-eighth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), which is taking place in Bonn, Germany.

The United Nations International Maritime Organisation (IMO) strategy to reduce the total annual Green House Gas, GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50 per cent by 2050 is expected to trigger private investors and operators in the maritime sector to immediately invest in new sustainable business models.

Shipping Firms’ Stake

The Managing Director of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistic Base, LADOL, Dr. Amy Jadesimi, who stated this prior to the meeting of Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, CPLC, Third High-Level United Nations Assembly 2018 in Washington, D.C, said carbon pricing can be a way in which international shipping can advance its newly adopted strategy on decarbonisation.

Amy said, “Last week, member states of the United Nations International Maritime Organisation adopted an initial strategy to reduce the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50 per cent by 2050.”

“This target could energise the private investors and operators in the maritime sector to immediately begin investing in new sustainable business models, assets (from ship yards and ships to ports) and financial solutions including carbon pricing. I therefore urge policy makers to continue setting bold targets and laying out a clear path to zero emissions,” she said.

(Image Courtesy: Climate Central)

Conflict of Interest

Another issue that has been in the negotiations for three years already, but which has been sidelined again this time, is whether or not fossil fuel interests should be allowed a seat at the negotiations table.

Despite the question on whether or not there is a conflict of interest in fossil fuel companies joining the climate talks, the topic was excluded from the text which the UN climate body’s secretariat released last Saturday summarising last week’s discussions.

Issues that are not committed to writing in the UN formal text generally take longer to get an agreement on, experts note.

The Week Ahead

The Talanoa Dialogue kicked off on Sunday where business leaders, civil society groups and individuals shared their experiences on climate impacts and their ideas to further reduce emissions. The outcome of the Talanoa Dialogue will fill in the gaps between current NDCs and align it with Paris Agreement goals.

Catherine Abreu, executive director, Climate Action Network Canada, said at a press briefing that now is the time for government, civil society and community representatives alike to unite for transformative change and nothing less. “We cannot shrink in fear from the impacts of climate change and the implications of the tremendous effort demanded of us,” she said.

(References: Climate Home News, Reuters, Eco-Business, IMO)

Sea News Feature, May 9