Letter from Bonn: "The Australian delegation has been playing a constructive part" Opinion Article

Jun 11, 2015 - 1:31pm

This article was first published in Climate Spectator on 11 June 2015. 

Erwin Jackson        
Deputy CEO, The Climate Institute

The positive announcement from the leaders of the G7 on the need to decarbonise the global economy has created an optimistic buzz in the hallways of the current climate convention meeting in Bonn, which concludes tonight.

However, the mood has been tempered by the mixed progress of meetings as delegates make painstaking attempts to streamline the draft Paris COP21 agreement – the texts that will be the result of the end-of-year climate meeting.

Areas such as 'how to facilitate the transfer of clean technology to the poorest developing countries' have progressed well. Discussions on how to facilitate action to reduce deforestation emissions in developing countries have also concluded.

However, the core political issues in the Paris agreement – such as the framework for future emissions reductions and how to support adaptation to unavoidable climate change impacts – are making slow progress. Some of the key elements of the post-2020 framework – like how to ensure the regular ratcheting up of action – have had substantive discussions but still require much more work before a clearer outcome is defined.

Overall, the Australian government delegation has been playing a constructive part in the process and attempting to support more rapid progress in the talks.

In some areas more leadership from Australia could make a more positive contribution. Clear signals that they are moving from passive to more active players on important issues would be a useful additional contribution. Articulating a clear preference for targets that ensure countries are held accountable for their actions to 2025 and not just 2030 is one example of this. Shorter term cycles for target-setting increases ongoing pressure on all governments to step up actions, and is a more credible signal to business that policies will be implemented and countries don’t hold back from additional policy implementation.

How successful the meeting is viewed ultimately is now, in part, defined by the mandate given to the American and Algerian co-chairs to take the work that has been done in Bonn and consolidate it into a more workable negotiating text. This would be discussed at the next meeting August. This will be tested today when countries reconvene to take stock of the process they have made to date.

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