Two big gaps—between climate science and countries’ Paris agreement commitments, and in climate preparedness for the world’s most vulnerable communities—are emerging as central issues as mid-year climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany approach the half-way point.
As delegates gathered at the beginning of the week, all eyes were on Washington, DC, where a White House meeting on Tuesday was expected to decide, once and for all, whether the United States would exit the landmark global climate deal. With that discussion now on hold until after the G7 summit in Sicily May 26-27, and the immediate distraction removed, countries are back to negotiating the crucial details of how the elements of the Paris agreement will be implemented.
(Though they’ll be conducting their discussions with very little input from the U.S., which sent only seven registered delegates to Bonn. That makes the U.S. delegation smaller than Zimbabwe’s, the Washington Post notes, and just a fraction of the 42 negotiators France assigned to two important weeks of deliberations.)
Wednesday’s edition of ECO, the daily news analysis produced by Climate Action Network-International, pointed to the close connections between the climate targets in the Paris deal and the United Nations’ broader sustainable development goals for 2030. Negotiators “have recognized the enormous challenge the global community is facing,” ECO notes. “In the next 3½ decades, we collectively have to improve the well-being of all people around the planet, while putting in place zero-carbon economies and societies that are more inclusive, and protect the vulnerable.”
So far, non-government observers’ at the conference include a transparent, effective framework to monitor countries’ adherence to their Paris commitments, clear communication on climate change adaptation, a gender action plan to incorporate women’s rights in every aspect of UN climate negotiations, and a serious response to the land, food, and agriculture issues raised by the Paris agreement.
“Agriculture is more than a sector in which to reduce emissions,” ECO stressedearlier in the conference. “It is the basis of food security, a source of livelihood for over three billion people, a contributor to nutrition and health, and a foundation of identity. A sector this complex must be approached carefully.”
In setting up a work program on agriculture, the newsletter added, nations “must consider a number of key challenges. How can we safeguard food security and human rights in the face of climate change? How can we help our food systems and our food producers adapt? And how can we ensure equity and sustainable development in relation to the role of land and agriculture in climate action?”
In related news yesterday, the Arctic Council tied up its annual meeting in Fairbanks with a communiqué that went farther in acknowledging the brutal realities of circumpolar climate change than many observers had expected—given that the U.S. was hosting the session, and its “Axis of Inaction” partner, Russia, was at the table.
The communiqué noted with concern “that the Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the global average, resulting in widespread social, environmental, and economic impacts in the Arctic and worldwide, and the pressing and increasing need for mitigation and adaptation actions and to strengthen resilience.”
It acknowledged the “entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change and its implementation, and (reiterated) the need for global action to reduce both long-lived greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants.”
And it stated that circumpolar nations “note with concern the widespread impacts of climate change on the Arctic marine environment, and decide to continue efforts to assess these impacts as a basis for marine stewardship and adaptation.”