This year’s climate change conference in Bonn, Germany concluded on Saturday. Presided over by the Prime Minister of island state of Fiji, the conference started with much hope for taking definitive actions to combat climate change.
Developed countries, however, tried their best to wiggle out of their pre-2020 commitments. There is still no clear path defined on how the developed countries will fulfil their promise to put together a fund of $100 billion a year for developing countries to adapt to the effects of climate change. This fund, called the Adaptation Fund, goes into effect after 2020 when the Paris Agreement kicks in.
Developed countries, led by US and the European Union, tried their level best to not have their carbon emissions scrutinised before 2020. Despite having pulled out of the Paris Agreement (PA), the US is continuing to throw its weight around and blocking meaningful action that can be taken by other countries. Though US faced widespread criticism after it announced the decision to quit PA, the European Union also connived with the US to walk away from their pre-2020 commitments.
"With the talks presided over by Fiji, a small island state, the challenges faced by climate-impacted countries took centre stage”, said Harjeet Singh from ActionAid International. “But even though vulnerable communities were in the spotlight, this still hasn't translated into the support that they need. It seems that the world is not yet ready to offer hope to people facing the impacts of climate change.”
After tough negotiations, the developing countries were able to get the developed countries to agree to report their carbon emissions for the next three years. Developing countries considered this as a minor victory as history would now reflect who was responsible for the devastating climate events. But even if developed countries fail to meet their emission cuts, these reports do not ensure that any action will be taken against them.
On the matter of the commitments of richer countries to the Adaptation Fund, the rich countries gave in to discuss how the Fund will be financed in next year’s COP.
Raijeli Nicole, the Pacific Director of Oxfam, said, ”For the most part, rich countries showed up to Bonn empty-handed. Instead, we got a tepid agreement that they'll report back next year on progress towards their $100 billion (a year in climate finance by 2020) promise. President Macron's international climate summit next month in Paris will offer another moment for countries to unveil new financial pledges.”
The final decision on pre-2020 action was adopted on Saturday, with a consensus to take action on multiple fronts, including sending letters to the countries which have not yet ratified the Doha Amendment. The Doha Amendment is what details the action to be taken in the period between the Kyoto Protocol ending and the Paris Agreement kicking in, i.e., the period between 2013-2020.
The pre-2020 decision also states that the countries will have to submit reports on the steps they are implementing in the next three years to tackle climate change, including mitigation efforts and provision of support. It also finalised that reports will be prepared on stocktake sessions that will occur in 2018 and 2019.
The concluding statements made by different groups reflected both disappointment in the lack of seriousness expressed by many developed countries, and some hope that dialogue will remain open to push developed countries into taking more stringent steps in cutting their CO2 emissions.