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No headway in climate change conference

No headway in climate change conference
With 10 days of negotiations spent in streamlining the text for the agreement to be signed in Paris in December, there are serious concerns about the slow progress of climate change negotiations among parties and civil societies alike. “The parties spent the entire Bonn climate conference editing the text they compiled in Geneva and did not even start negotiating. At this pace, the Paris agreement would be not be able to deliver the ambitious deal the world expects from it,” says Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general at Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

The forty-second sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI42) and the June session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP2-9) were held from June 1-11, 2015 in Bonn, Germany. 

Paris Agreement is the hope and focus of the entire world as a “last chance” where governments will be expected to decide the fate of the world and climate. A new global deal on climate change will be made to decide climate actions beyond 2020. This has to be agreed upon in December at COP21 (Conference of Parties) in Paris.  

The few and inadequate INDCs 
All countries have agreed to submit <g data-gr-id="69">their</g> intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) or voluntary pledges of emission reductions by October this year. These combined pledges would help us assess what the countries plan to do for their emission reduction. Only 12 parties have submitted their INDCs so far – Switzerland, European Union and its Member States, Norway, Mexico, United States of America, Gabon, Russia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Canada, Morocco and Ethiopia. Morocco and Ethiopia have submitted theirs during the Bonn conference. 

US target not ambitious 
US’ INDC committed cutting down the country’s emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2025 against the 2005 level. But it did not provide details of how they plan to achieve this target. It essentially means that in 2025, US will be emitting 5 billion tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) with per capita emission of 14 tonne CO2e. SunitaNarain, CSE Director General, criticised the announcement, saying: “The US INDC is even less ambitious than what was pledged in Copenhagen when the US had said they would be on the pathway to a 30 percent reduction in 2025 and a 42 per cent reduction in 2030. This pledge falls short of even that weak target. And this is when the world is witnessing extreme weather events and unprecedented calamities attributable to climate change.” 

Will INDCs be enough? 
But the question remains – Will all the INDCs or combined voluntary pledges be able to restrict the rise in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius? The European Union INDC targets 40 percent emission reduction by 2030 against the 1990 levels. According to the assessment by CSE, the current 40 percent target of the EU falls far short of what it should be doing, considering its past and present responsibility in causing climate change and the high capability it has in fighting climate change. “EU should pledge more than 50 percent cuts in Paris. That would be fair and ambitious,” adds Bhushan. 

The pre-2020 fight 
In a major blow to expectations of cutting more emissions starting now until 2020, the EU categorically stated that it will not revisit any targets for the pre-2020 period. The US has also ignored talks about pre-2020 and has said that countries should focus on post-2020 actions instead. 
Before 2020, only developed countries are required to take actions to reduce emissions. Developing countries are quite unhappy with the recalcitrant attitude of the developed countries. Susheel Kumar, additional secretary, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), and leader of the Indian delegation, emphatically stated that, “We need accelerated implementation process for (the) pre-2020 period and also for enhancing pre-2020 ambitions. How can countries accept the agreement on post-2020 actions when there is no clarity on pre-2020 action?”

Raising US $100 billion 
It also remains undecided how the developed countries will come up with the US $100 billion annually for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The countries haven’t decided upon the legal nature of the Paris agreement. These 10 days in Bonn are being seen as an important step to gain trust and confidence for the parties. However, the conference lacked substance. With effectively only 10 more days of negotiations left to decide, the future of a legally binding ambitious agreement looks grim.
“We don’t want a repeat of Copenhagen where because countries could not manage the negotiation process properly we ended up with an unambitious deal thrust on the world by a few big polluters. Such a scenario would be disastrous for the world and the world’s poor who are already bearing the brunt of climate change,” says Bhushan.
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