Day 2 at the UN climate talks in Bonn
Adaptation is the word of the day in Bonn today. As the talks moved past the Opening Plenary and into the nitty gritty of negotiating a new 2015 agreement, much of the day was devoted to the issue of how countries are adapting to the worsening climate impacts. A general consensus appears to be forming between countries that acknowledge adaptation will be an important aspect of any 2015 agreement, and we saw growing support for a long-term goal. The European Union, for example, came out strongly that many governments are increasingly interested in engaging on the potential climate impacts not only in the most vulnerable countries, but in all countries.
And while negotiators appeared willing to engage in the shape of form of such a long-term goal, divisions were also apparent. Some countries see it as its own, distinct aspect of the new agreement; while others warned that it must go hand in hand with mitigation efforts. Timor-Leste summed this up when they warned: “We need to adapt because of temperature rise; the temperature is rising because of greenhouse gas emissions.” Tuvalu expressed concern that adaptation could focus too much on conversations around national plans and too little on support, warning “it is hard for us to have conversations when we are underwater.” Singapore stressed that ‘if we don’t deal with adaptation, we won’t get a deal in Paris”.
How and where to deal with loss and damage – the issue of how to compensate countries for the climate impacts where adaptation is no longer an option – was also a hot-topic in today’s negotiations, with many vulnerable countries using the adaptation discussion to stress that loss and damage should be its own, distinct issue in the 2015 text. A new submission from the Least Developed Countries got some attention from our partners in Bonn, not least for its proposals on adaptation, which include principles of transparency, full participation and vulnerability; but also on issues such as gender-sensitivity and indigenous knowledge.
Today’s talks on the impacts of climate change were particularly pertinent as news headlines outside of the conference centre were dominated by the growing scientific consensus that 2014 is on track to be the hottest year since records began in 1880. New figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have confirmed that September 2014 is the warmest such month, with May, June and August also setting temperature records this year. To date 2014 has already tied with 1998 as the warmest such period, according to NOAA scientists.
While this latest science provides yet another stark warning of negotiators meeting in Bonn, two new reports release highlighted the level of action that can be achieved. In its latest analysis, released to coincide with the conference, Climate Action Tracker has shown that by adopting best practice in their domestic action on climate, the US and China – the world’s two largest emitters – could close the 2020 emissions gap by 23%. Alongside this, the latest Global Wind Energy Outlook is also highlighting the potential of climate solutions, showing how wind could provide 20% of global electricity and reduce emissions by three billion tonnes each year by 2030. Three billion tonnes is equivalent to taking 529 million cars of the road; more than currently being driven in the US and Canada.
Today’s negotiations also opened discussion about finance under the 2015 agreement – set to be another contentious issue – which will continue tomorrow. Following this countries will move on to talk about the Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions (countries pledges under the new agreement), and pre-2020 ambition.