Climate negotiations in Bonn: not a hitch, but a turning point

The UN climate conference that ended recently in Bonn may become a turning point for the negotiations, says Christiana Figueres. The UNFCCC Executive Secretary believes that countries have expressed strong willingness to cooperate in the preparation of a new climate agreement. According to Climate Secretariat of Russian Socio-Ecological Union, there are some reasons for optimism concerning future decisions. However, the process is moving unacceptably slowly.

The Ministerial Conference in Bonn, according to negotiators and observers, had to become an important step towards preparation of the international agreement to be signed at the end of 2015 in Paris. It was expected that the ministers involved in climate and ecology would break the deadlock where the negotiations stalled.

The main topics of the June conference were the issues of land use and urban areas. The ministers and negotiators were presented the reports by leading experts on these topics, whose task was to demonstrate possibilities and practical examples of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in these areas. Extensive was also the discussion of relation between climate change and agriculture and food problems. The negotiating session was abounded with "practical" activities. Negotiators were able not only to hear about best practices, but also to make a test drive on Tesla battery car.

High persons spoke on national plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, answered to questions about financing, technology and capacity building support. However, the main question - how to split the "burden" of emission reductions between governments and business and to support financially this process in developing countries - has not been removed. At this time, the new topic for hot discussions was commitments on adaptation to climate change. Negotiators have not agreed, whether they shall be included in the agreement or not.

It was noted that adaptation measures are not only important for small developing countries, which produce a small part of greenhouse gas emissions, but need to adapt to climate change urgently. Adaptation commitments are also important for industrialized countries, whose losses from climate change are increasing year by year as well.

Alexey Kokorin, the head of the WWF Russia Climate and Energy Programme, says: "Now countries formulate their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the basis of short-term economic benefits. They do not take into account the price of future adaptation and damage. When they understand the stakes, action will be taken on a firm and long-term basis".

Due to disagreements, the process of preparing the agreement is still advancing slowly. Experts believe that this is not because the issues are complex, but because there is no will to solve them quickly. To hold the global warming within two degrees, the whole world must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 % from 1990 levels by 2050, while the developed countries – by 80 %. The emissions are already reduced in developed countries, but on the whole they grow because of developing countries. Incidentally, Russia came close to the peak emission at 75 % from 1990, after which experts predict their decline.

The next "climate meetings" will be held in October and December this year in Bonn and Lima. However, the process participants also have expectations associated with the "high meeting" to be held in September in New York. It is planned that Ban Ki-moon will invite the leaders to present their climate plans at the "leaders' summit" within the UN General Assembly. Those who really want to accelerate the climate negotiation process are ready to use every opportunity to promote it.