Trust us, says UN: Our ‘tool’ will keep climate talks on track

WEEKLY WRAP: All you need to know from the last seven days of international climate change and energy politics 

(Pic: UNFCCC/Flickr)

(Pic: UNFCCC/Flickr)

By Ed King

After two weeks of interim UN climate talks in Bonn got bogged down in procedural matters, all the contentious issues remained to be tackled.

Countries agreed to hand the co-chairs of the negotiations the task of whittling down the 80+ page text into something more manageable – by next month.

In a typically obtuse UN release the new text will be called a “tool”. A vice, a sledgehammer, or perhaps a sieve? Whatever you choose – it needs to have an effect.

NGOs told our reporter Megan Darby they weren’t too happy with the outcome (when are they ever?), while the UN’s climate chief Christiana Figueres was typically optimistic.

Participants insisted there were positive conversations behind the scenes and trust was running high, standing them in good stead for the next round in August.

Forests saved!

There was one bright spot of progress. Plans for the UN’s huge REDD+ forest protection scheme were finally signed off in a surprising yet positive move.

INDC watch

Three UN pledges for the deal came out this week…

Morocco: 32% cut in emissions by 2030. Verdict: Positive
Ethiopia: 64% cut in emissions by 2030. Verdict: Positive
Serbia: 9.8% cut in emissions by 2030. Verdict: Fiddled

Australia was also accused this week of fixing its UN pledge, which is still under development. Analysts say the government overstated projected CO2 emissions to make its 2030 goal look harder than it actually is.

2C or not 2C?

We may never know, after China, India and Saudi Arabia shut down discussions on whether the UN’s agreed 2C warming limit is adequate.

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Pope watch

The world’s fourth most famous Argentine (after Maradona, Messi and Eva Peron) will release his much anticipated encyclical on the environment next week. 18 June to be precise. Much of the content is already public but the letter is expected to be politically huge. US Republicans are already incensed. Christiana Figueres said it would have a “major impact”.

Quote of the week

“What we did recently in the Senate was reduce, Alan, reduce, capital R-E-D-U-C-E” – Australia PM Tony Abbott tells radio host Alan Jones he’s not up for boosting clean energy.


Monday seems an age away – but the 2015 G7 meeting ended with support from the world’s richest developed countries for a low carbon economy by the end of the century. The leaders taking part will all be dead by then – but their grandkids may still be kicking around – so we can only hope they meant it. Reports from Germany suggest Angela Merkel pressured Canada and Japan into playing ball.

Show me the beef

Sometimes climate diplomacy has nothing to do with the climate. So reports Lisa Friedman at ClimateWire. “Analysts familiar with the bilateral negotiations said a long-standing effort by Brazil to end a US ban on its beef is receiving fresh attention as an area ripe for climate potential,” she says. So it seems simple. Buy our cows and we’ll cut emissions.

Stat of the week

Natural gas use will rise 1.9% a year to 2035 says BP in its annual energy stats review.

US round-up

-US Democrats launch carbon tax plan at conservative thinktank (Carbon Pulse)
-EPA says airline emissions are damaging human health (RTCC)
-Jim Inhofe tells Pope to butt out of climate politics (Guardian)

Vanuatu heads to court

The tiny Pacific island says it plans to put leading fossil fuel polluters in the dock. “We commit to holding those most responsible for climate change accountable. By doing so, we send a message of hope that the people and not the polluters are in charge of humanity’s destiny,” the country said in a statement.

Coming up in June

15: IEA release CO2 stats for 2014
15-19: EU sustainable energy week
17: London climate march
18: Papal encyclical on environment

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