UN to present new ‘streamlined’ climate text in July

Chairs of talks for a global emissions deal propose new “tool” that will synthesise and clarify discussions so far

(Pic: UNFCCC/Flickr)

(Pic: UNFCCC/Flickr)

By Megan Darby in Bonn

After ten days of talks in Bonn, diplomats have made little progress on the substance of a global pact to prevent climate catastrophe.

Nearly 200 governments are working on plans for a deal due to be signed off in Paris this December that will limit warming to below 2C above pre industrial levels.

That limit was agreed by world leaders back in 2009, but the global carbon-cutting course to achieve it has yet to be set.

What has been agreed is to let the two co-chairs steering the UN talks to slim down a vast set of ideas and plans before the next meeting in August.

They propose to issue a document on 24 July that “will present clear options and will not omit or delete any option or position of Parties”.

It is also to start sorting issues into those that will form part of an enduring legal accord and those for a less binding decision paper.

Civil society groups and some countries voiced frustration at the slow pace.

“We are still a long way from where we would hope to be,” said Ilze Pruse, head of the Latvian delegation, which holds the EU presidency. “We must go faster.”

Diplomats are “delaying the inevitable” said Oxfam’s Jan Kowalzig. They are “moving too slow to achieve a fair and ambitious landmark deal,” agreed Sven Harmeling of Care.

There are just 10 more negotiating days before the critical Paris summit, when a deal is to be finalised.

Laurence Tubiana, France’s top climate diplomat, acknowledged the mood.

“Everyone is feeling the frustration, but we should not be frustrated or disappointed because these are really necessary conditions for Paris,” she said.

“There are three conditions to get a successful agreement: the first is trust, the second is trust and the third is trust.”

Chairing the world’s future: Two men with the climate in their hands

Trust-building was also the defence of co-chair Ahmed Djoghlaf in a briefing where he berated the press for their perceived negativity.

“The way that you cover us and disseminate information can be used to help us or to undermine us,” he said.

“To be frank with you, we are a little bit disappointed with the way that this meeting has been covered so far.”

He stressed the long hours negotiators were putting in – even on Saturday, when the rest of world was watching Barcelona cruise to Champions League victory.

At her closing press conference, UN chief Christiana Figueres emphasised developments outside the negotiating chamber.

“It would not be doing justice or understanding this process if we only focused on the advance of the text itself,” she said.

Monday’s G7 statement on climate change, commitments of non-state actors and a raft of climate regulations are forming “a firm foundation” for the UN process.

Report: China, India reject calls for tougher climate goal at UN talks

Participants reported some progress on the issues, namely reinforcing pre-2020 action and establishing a regime for reporting and reviewing countries’ performance on climate plans.

But the most substantive debate of the session – over a potential tightening of the 2C warming goal – was left unresolved.

A two-year expert review labelled the 2C limit “inadequate”, saying it exposed some poor countries to “very high risk”.

States that are particularly vulnerable to the impact of rising seas and intensifying weather extremes are pushing for temperature rise to be held to 1.5C.

But China and Saudi Arabia used procedural arguments to block the adoption of any resolution from the expert review.

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