UN Climate Negotiators Make Slow Progress in Bonn

Another week of UN climate negotiations ended in Bonn, Germany, on 4th September with expressions of mild optimism that progress was being made from negotiators and environmental groups. The most upbeat assessment came from Dan Reifsnyder, co-chairman of the negotiations and a senior U. S. State Department official. Reifsnyder said: "We've achieved an enormous amount of clarity in this session."

The World Resources Institute said in a press release: “In Bonn, countries made important progress in crafting the core architecture of the global agreement. Negotiators had meaningful discussions on key elements, such as whether to regularly ramp up countries’ commitments and set long-term goals to phase out emissions and enhance climate resilience.”

Informal negotiations will continue behind the scenes throughout the fall, but only one more official session is currently scheduled before the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) convenes in Paris on 30th November. That session is set for Bonn from 19th to 23rd October. The Paris Accord, a new international climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, is supposed to be signed before COP-21 ends on 11th December.

Despite the claims of progress in the Bonn negotiations, Fiona Harvey reported in the Guardian that a group of senior international figures have called on world leaders to intervene in the negotiations to overcome multiple obstacles in the way of an agreement. The letter from “The Elders” urges heads of state to use the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, scheduled for 25th-27th September at UN Headquarters in New York City, “to inject new urgency into the Paris negotiations. Give your negotiators the mandate to draft a binding international agreement under the UNFCCC which will limit the increase in average global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius.”