Upbeat end to Bonn climate talks paves way for further progress

Draft treaty curbing global warming to be sent to parties by mid-July

The latest round of UN climate talks concluded in Bonn yesterday on an upbeat note, with a pledge that elements of a draft treaty aimed at curbing global warming would be circulated to the parties as early as July 15th.

Co-chairs Artur Runge-Metzger and Kishan Kumarsingh said: “We are determined to ensure we make these available in July towards a comprehensive new treaty in 2015 that will protect the planet and its people from dangerous climate change.

“The co-operative and positive atmosphere so self-evident here in Bonn has now translated into a significant step forward towards the elements of a draft treaty that needs to be a key outcome by the end of the year in Lima, Peru.”

A further round of talks in Bonn has been scheduled for late October in advance of the UN’s 20th full-scale climate change conference in Lima, which would hopefully lead to an international treaty at the 21st such gathering in Paris, in December next year.


UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said many delegates in Bonn “spoke of the growing understanding that Paris 2015 needs to be a turning point where decisive and defining pathways are put in place towards [an] ultimately carbon neutral world.

“Bonn may perhaps go down as a point in time where governments showed new and higher levels of co-operation and positivity towards a meaningful agreement in Paris and the goal of limiting a global temperature rise to under 2 degrees Celsius.”

Climate fund

However, she said developed countries needed to “build further trust to underpin progress in Lima and success in Paris” by capitalising the new Green Climate Fund, which will finance both climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.

Even the usually critical Climate Action Network of non-governmental organisations gave a cautious welcome to what it saw as “the slow drumbeat” of a momentum building towards the international agreement due to be signed in Paris at the end of 2015.

This had been underscored by “good news” from Washington and Beijing that the US and China – the world’s biggest carbon emitters – are planning to limit the pollution caused by coal-fired power plants and promote renewable energy.

With the US and China now both moving to tackle global warming, Europe must ensure that its latest climate and energy package – currently under negotiation – is as ambitious as possible, according to Greenpeace International.

Following two weeks of UN climate talks in Bonn, Greenpeace’s Martin Kaiser said it was “specifically” up to EU member states “not to lock in low ambition” in the package, but to give a clear signal that Europe would play its part to save the climate.

He warmly welcomed pledges by more than 60 of the 185 countries represented in Bonn to phase out dependence on climate-polluting fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – and instead rely entirely on renewable energy sources by the middle of this century.

“It’s a major breakthrough that almost one-third of the world’s governments acknowledge that we have to switch from fossil fuels to clean energy in the space of one human generation,” said Mr Kaiser, who heads climate politics for Greenpeace.

Tasneem Essop, head of the World Wildlife Fund’s delegation, said there was a lot of hard work ahead if the “constructive spirit” in Bonn was to be translated into real political momentum.

“As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘it always seems impossible, until it’s done’.”

One notable absentee from the talks was Noel Casserly, former assistant principal officer at the Department of the Environment; he took early retirement to set up Smart Earth, which works with developing countries on capacity-building and climate finance.

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former environment editor