UN to start drafting 2015 climate change treaty

UN meeting in Bonn next week will kickstart efforts to design draft of international treaty before conference in Lima

Source: UNFCCC

Source: UNFCCC

By Sophie Yeo

Efforts to draft an international treaty to tackle climate change will begin next week in Germany.

Climate negotiators will meet for the first time since the UN’s annual Conference of Parties (COP) in Warsaw last November, where they agreed a timetable of work on the treaty.

This agreement, which is due to be signed off in Paris in 2015, will bind all countries to reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases. It will replace the Kyoto Protocol as the world’s most important treaty on climate change, and will require all countries to rethink their energy systems.

The meeting taking place in Germany next week will be the first attempt to design how this treaty might look. Apart from curbing greenhouse gas emissions, the agreement needs to work out how countries can adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, and how to mobilise the finance and technology support needed to do so.

“At the ADP meeting in Bonn, nations can learn from each other how best to fast track, scale up and accelerate a transition to a low carbon economy that will help make Paris 2015 the success it needs to be for seven billion people, rising to more than nine billion by 2050,” said Christiana Figueres, head of the UN’s climate body.

Draft agreement

Preparations for the treaty are difficult and controversial, with different blocs of countries arguing over who should take the brunt of the emissions reductions.

Many who take part in the process say that getting an early draft will be vital to the success of the final two-week summit next year—leaving details to the last minute could lead to further delay. The UN hopes that a draft agreement will be on the table before the end of this year, when all parties will meet again in Lima, Peru, for further discussion.

“Most of the negotiated content of the Paris agreement needs to be ready by COP 20 in Lima, and we need to reach a common understanding of how individual components of this new agreement will operate for that to happen,” said Figueres.

At last year’s meeting in Warsaw, countries agreed to submit their contribution towards the final agreement by the first quarter of 2015. The meeting next week will be an opportunity for those who have already advanced their preparations to present where they stand.

The next key moment this year will be in September, at a meeting to be hosted by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the UN’s General Assembly. Ban has invited heads of state to come to the meeting with commitments on climate change that could be incorporated into the final deal.

Many see this as a key forerunner to the Conference in Lima, where the draft of the treaty will be discussed and secured.

“Just as climate change impacts are accelerating, 2014 needs to be a year of accelerated action and ambition to check the advance of climate change,” said Figueres.

“Governments and business, cities and citizens are closer than ever to achieving the positive tipping points in economies and societies that get us to a low-carbon, high resilience future. We now need to fully harness those opportunities and that momentum.”

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