Despite all of the attention garnered by the December COP21 climate talks in Paris, the follow-up meeting this week in Bonn, Germany -- which is crucial to the implementation of the agreement -- has managed to stay below the radar.
The Paris conference attendees set a goal, or actually a pair of goals: 2 degrees Celsius as an absolute cap on global temperature rise, and 1.5 degrees as desirable. But the specific carbon reductions required to meet those goals were not spelled out. Commitments made in Paris would put the world on a trajectory closer to a 3-degree rise.
Everyone agreed that it was a good start, given the level of commitment around the table. But now it’s time to sharpen those pencils. This week, Hoesung Lee, chief scientist at the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told the Guardian that it is still possible to meet to the 2-degree target. For that to happen, many, including Christiana Figueres, say emissions need to peak by 2020.
The Bonn meeting comes in advance of the COP22 talks, due to take place in Marrakech, Morocco, in November. Some 1,500 delegates are expected to attend. The IPCC hopes to continue the “unprecedented momentum” spurred in Paris.
A note to the participants: Both the president of the Paris COP21, French Environment Minister Segolene Royal, and the incoming president of COP22, Morocco's Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, said that it is time for a shift "from a focus on negotiation to a focus on implementation and cooperation."
The elephant in the room in Paris was the question of carbon pricing.
A so-called “Climate Action Fair” in Bonn will allow governments to discuss the social and economic value of carbon, and how to minimize emissions in the transportation sector. Other actions include those focused on adaptation and resilience.
The role of “non-state actors” (cities, regions, businesses and investors) is expected to be significant. Their contributions are being captured on the U.N.’s NAZCA (Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action) portal.
Clean-energy technology will be featured by a consortium of 20 companies. Hydrogen vehicles will be available for test drives.
Still, a major focus must be on government action. Of the 177 countries that have signed the Paris agreement, only 16 have ratified it. The major players, on whom so much depends, are dragging their feet. Still, the main work must happen within those countries as they work out the details behind the high-level commitments they made.
Meanwhile, a number of campaigns around the world are calling attention to the problem and the urgency that is needed to effectively confront it. The rallying cry is: “Break Free From Fossil Fuels.”
Protesters in Germany shut down a coal mine last weekend and blocked a rail line that delivers coal to a power plant, effectively shutting that plant down.
Other actions took place in the Philippines, where the government plans to construct 27 new coal-fired power plants.
In Bangladesh, a rally was held to “kick polluters out of climate policy.” Md. Arifur Rahman, spokesman of SUPRO, the Campaign for Good Governance, said: “We, the people, urge our government leaders to take action in Bonn to eliminate the primary obstacle to more ambitious and aggressive action by showing big polluters the door.”
Meanwhile, a leaking pipe is spewing 20,000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico. We have an awful lot of work to do and not much time left to do it.
Image credit: The Library of Congress: Flickr Creative Commons
RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work has appeared in Triple Pundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, Grist, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering, Design News, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, Environmental Science, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Eniday, and engineering.com among others . He is the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP is a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 53 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP was the winner of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week blogging competition. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org