UNFCCC talks resume in Bonn under the “Paris Spirit”

UNFCCC negotiations resumed on Monday, May 16th at the World Conference Center in Bonn (Germany) with the aim of defining the agenda for future negotiations and moving discussions forward. It was the first meeting after the Paris Agreement was adopted at the end of 2015 and focused on issues necessary to ensure that the deal will be operative by 2020.

The two-week meeting was preceded by a Reflection note issued by the president of the Paris COP21, French Environment Minister Segolene Royal, and the incoming president of COP22, Morocco’s Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, who encouraged participants to shift “from a focus on negotiation to a focus on implementation and cooperation” and to work on “a comprehensive, coherent and balanced manner”.

During the meeting, the newly established Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) held its first session led by two women as new Co-Chairs, Sarah Baashan from Saudi Arabian and New Zealand’s former climate ambassador Jo Tyndall, in conjunction with the forty-fourth sessions of the subsidiary bodies. The three technical bodies will work in the next years to finalize decisions on the “rule book” of the new climate regime and to lay the foundations for a transparent, fair and credible process.
In particular, the APA will be responsible for the definition of procedure relating to nationally determined contributions (NDCs), the transparency framework, the global Stocktake and thecompliance/implementation issues, whereas the cooperative mechanisms, the accounting framework for finance and technological support, the IPCC role in informing the global stocktake and the procedures of the NDC registry will be discussed within the two Subsidiary Bodies of the UN Framework Convention.

Within the two weeks, the work has been organized in contact groups, in-session workshops and informal consultations, most of them accessible to observer organizations.

Although a couple of days’ block due to the request by some developing countries to avoid focusing only on mitigation but giving adaptation the same relevance, negotiations within the APA stream managed to launch the basis of discussion ahead of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to be held in Marrakech. In particular, APA invited all Parties to submit by 30 September 2016, their views on several issues, such as the features, transparency information and accounting rules for Parties’ NDCs including the adaptation communication, matters related to the global stocktake, including advice on how the assessments of the IPCC can inform it, procedures and guidelines for the transparency framework for action and support. By 7 October UNFCCC secretariat will compile an information document with all these submissions whereas, by the end of August the two Co –Chairs are requested to prepare a set of guiding questions to further develop conceptual thinking on features and elements to facilitate implementation and promote compliance.

Also observer organizations are invited to provide information, views and proposals on any work of the APA before each of its sessions.

While negotiations on finance commitments took place, two of the key international funding agency, namely the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) took the opportunity to confirm their support in channelling future flows in the context of the agreement.
Specifically, the GCF announced an aspirational goal of 2.5 billion USD in 2016 for both adaptation and mitigation actions. The GEF told negotiators about its work programme for the funding of both mitigation and adaptation projects: 450 million USD is, indeed, available for new projects in addition to current projects worth 106 million USD whereas adaptation can rely in some 250 million USD.

About timing, Laurence Tubiana, lead negotiator of the Paris Agreement and now high-level champion along with Moroccan delegate Hakima El Haite, told Reuters “My bet is 2018, everything will be done (in) a maximum two years”, actually supporting expectations that the Paris Agreement would enter into force even before 2020.

The “Spirit of Paris” was still alive and well in Bonn, said outgoing UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, and it allowed the Bonn conference to send a very encouraging signal in preparation for negotiations to resume in November in Marrakech”.


(Photo: Stocktaking Event: Ensuring coherence and assessing progress on the implementation of the work program post-Paris, Bonn, May 21st, 2016 Credit: UNclimatechange/Flickr)