There was a searing irony in Bonn last month, when countries gathered behind closed doors to discuss how to ensure transparency and visibility in their efforts to implement the Paris agreement.
That irony has to stop, climate specialists Sébastien Duyck and Wael Hmaidan argue on The Huffington Post. If national negotiators convened by the UN climate secretariat keep leaving civil society and academic experts on the sidelines, they’ll threaten the “spirit of partnership that is the foundation of the climate pact”.
One of the biggest strengths of the Paris agreement is its ability to showcase positive steps by national governments and “the multitude of actors contributing to cutting emissions,” Duyck and Hmaidan write. But that dynamic depends on two essential ingredients: greater transparency, to build confidence on the part of governments and the public that countries are keeping their Paris promises, and better recognition of the role of “non-state actors” in meeting Paris targets.
“The precise role that the Paris agreement will play in shaping future climate action remains, however, to be defined,” they note. The Bonn meeting was an important milestone in setting the ground rules for implementation, and civil society representatives expected a seat at the table as the process unfolded.
“But the officers in charge of the negotiation process decided otherwise, decreeing that the presence of any representative from the public would interfere with the objective of the meeting—that is, promoting transparent cooperation on climate action,” Duyck and Hmaidan note.
“This ironic decision, particularly if it is replicated in future meetings, threatens to both erode the role of transparency and trust in relation to the implementation of the climate agreement, and to undermine the broad partnership that governments sought to create with civil society and other non-state actors to address climate change.”