Developing countries win concessions on early climate action at UN talks

A row over the promises rich countries made on climate action before 2020 has been resolved at negotiations in Bonn, with several wins for developing countries

The UN climate talks plenary in Bonn (Photo: UNclimatechange)


A wrangle over the climate commitments made by rich countries before 2020 has resulted in several concessions to developing countries.

Climate talks in Bonn have been held hostage for more than a week over the issue, as poor countries called for a space to hold the rich to account on their promises.

Moroccan diplomats, who were charged with brokering a resolution, found unanimity on Wednesday morning. The final document will put pressure on rich countries to take action on carbon cuts and climate finance.

A request from the ‘like-minded developing country’ group of negotiators to formally discuss the promises made by the developed world at these talks has threatened to derail other important work fleshing out the rulebook of the Paris Agreement.

Their proposal was not granted. Instead, parties agreed to seven measures that would scrutinise rich country’s action.

These include:

  • Calling on the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres to intervene in the refusal of the majority of parties to ratify the Doha Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol
  • A process to track and report on progress to meeting pre-2020 commitments, including stocktakes in 2018 and 2019
  • An assessment of the finance rich countries are providing to help poor ones cope with climate change

“People were really constructive and willing to reach a compromise,” said Moroccan ambassador to the climate talks Aziz Mekouar, who brokered the deal. No-one disagreed on the importance of the pre-2020 issue, he said, but the disagreement had been over how to give that space in negotiations, which are currently dominated by efforts to establish the rules that will govern the 2015 Paris accord.

“There’s now clarity on the shape of that space,” said Mekouar.

“This is a result of compromise from all sides. Many developing countries are generally satisfied with the result,” said Gou Haibo, a senior representative from China’s ministry of foreign affairs, told Climate Home News. China is part of the like-minded group that pushed the initial proposal.

“The decisions will increase visibility of the pre-2020 issues in the UN processes,” said Gou, noting this is not a “formal agenda item,” which developing countries initially demanded.

Camilla Born, a climate expert at E3G, said: “This shows that countries are understanding the legitimate concerns that followed a year of climate and impacts and are taking climate action seriously.”

Climate Home News’ reporting at Cop23 is supported in part by the European Climate Foundation.

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