A climate momentum that must be used

Written by Christina Ihler Madsen, Climate Change Advocacy Intern at Dan Church Aid.

Right now negotiators from all over the world have gathered in Bonn to resume the UN climate talks. There is optimism in the air, but to make the climate summit in December, COP21, into a success, optimism needs to be transformed into concrete results.

Bonn Climate Change Conference, June 4 2015

In the climate talks in Geneva last February, all parties where invited to add their perspectives to the text. This was done in an effort to create ownership of the text for all countries. What was the success of Geneva, will now be the challenge of Bonn. The main task of this session is to shorten and streamline the massive 90-page negotiation text. The hope is to have a more clear and manageable text ready for the ministers to negotiate in Paris in December.

While the efforts of this meeting should create a new more streamlined, concise and manageable text, the original Geneva text will co-exist untouched as the negotiation text.
This may sound pretty straight forward, but the text is full of diverging views exactly because the parties have differing opinions.

Questions of equity, about who should do what; how to scale up ambitions if goals aren’t enough to keep us on a below 2 degree pathway; how to address loss and damage when adaptation isn’t adequate; how to raise finance to curb emissions and adapt to the effects already felt all over the world because of rising temperatures – those and many other questions are not easily settled. It will be hard work – But reaching our collective goal will be worth it for all parties.

In an EU press briefing Elina Bardram, chief negotiator for the EU, said “As negotiators we must be required to move out of our comfort zone and have the courage to make compromises.”

Elina Bardram (left), European Commission, and Ilze Pruse (right), Latvia

I hope all parties, as well as EU, listen to those wise words. I especially urge everyone in Bonn, to take special notice to the issues of those most at risk and those already experiencing the detrimental effects of a warmer globe.

It is crucial to take the question of loss and damage seriously and keep it in the agreement. Loss and damage isn’t just a question of compensation. It is also a question of migration, loss of livelihoods, identity, culture and nationality. We owe it to those most at risk to take their worries seriously – It is, after all, their nations under threat from rising sea levels and their lives that are on the forefront of this battle.

The spirit of the conference appears to be both optimistic and determined. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, has said that the conference is being held in a context of remarkable activity, with engagement from both governments and non-state actors around the world. Hopefully that remarkable activity outside of the climate talks, will have an positive effect on negotiators to make remarkable progress inside the talks.

Ilze Pruse, Latvia’s chief negotiator, has also pointed to the current positive momentum. She stated, in an EU press briefing, that the difference between now and when UN climate negotiations started, is that climate change has now become reality. We can now witness it all around the world, and clearly see its impacts, costs and problems. She thinks that everybody understands that this is our main, if not the last, opportunity to manage this problem. Declaring that she, and many others, are optimists.

The task that lies before the negotiators in Bonn is both massive and demanding. Therefore, the positive spirit of Bonn is a great opportunity that must not be squandered – now is the time for cooperation, now is the time for compromise, now is the time to convert the talk about action into concrete accomplishments.

There is no better time than now!