Home » General » Climate Talks Disappointing [column]

Zimbabwe’s lead climate negotiator Mr Washington Zhakata says he is disappointed at the manner the Bonn talks have shaped up, as they risked locking in low ambition, leaving Africa worse off from the impacts of climate change.

The two-week preliminary climate negotiations ended in the German city of Bonn last week, but provided little hope the crucial Paris agreement will be anything more than a political treaty, which cannot inspire real ambitious action.

“We continue to stress that developed countries need to live up to past promises. . .” said Mr Zhakata in an emailed update from Germany where he attended the talks.

“With the way negotiations are going and the proposals for burden sharing among all by the developed countries, there is a danger that Paris may lock in, unacceptably and dangerously, low ambition on mitigation and finance by developed countries.”

The talks in Bonn precede the main global climate negotiations held every year in December.

This year’s talks in Paris, France are most important. That is where a new global pact to control climate change, replacing the expired Kyoto Protocol, will be agreed.

The new agreement, which only becomes effective in 2020, needs to measure up with the demands of holding global temperature rise in this century below 2 degrees Celsius, the limit considered safe by scientists.

To achieve that, the world’s biggest polluters must cut emissions by as much as 65 percent below 2010 levels by 2050, phase in renewables completely, as well as avail funding and technology to help poor countries cope, scientists say.

This change must be led by developed countries, which have acknowledged responsibility for causing the current climate change problem.

Not only that, rich nations must also pay for and help poor countries in Africa and elsewhere adapt.

At Bonn the talks continued, as always, on the rich and poor lines. Africa reinforced its demands for the Paris agreement to treat adaptation and mitigation equally. It wants assurances on how $100 billion promise in climate finance per year will be mobilised by 2020.

Also, the continent is keen for rich countries to increase technology transfer and capacity-building efforts, as well as recognise loss and damage separately.

But the rift with the industrialised states who want individual states to foot own costs on loss and damage and that the issue be dealt within the context of adaptation is expanding.

Through the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), rich countries have forced through plans that compel every nation, big or small, to commit to reducing carbon emissions. And yet, they have remained vague on the crucial aspects of climate finance.

Mr Zhakata said “there was no convergence” on mitigation because developing countries “emphasised that governments — especially those of developed countries — implement their current pledges and increase their greenhouse gas overall mitigation ambition.”

Those in the developed world are pulling in the opposite direction. Earlier this year the giant emitters, the European Union and the United States submitted their plans for curbing emissions to the UN.

The EU reiterated its earlier inadequate proposals made last September, promising emission reductions of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, but remained non-committal on finance, and completely silent on the critical issue of loss and damage.

The US, which together with China account for 50 percent of global emissions, plans to reduce emissions by between 26 percent and 28 percent below 2005 levels within the next decade.

Great escape

Analysts have said the submissions are incompatible with the demands of a 2 degrees Celsius warmer world.

Now, at Bonn, developing countries sought to push through a mechanism for the periodic review of mitigation pledges by the rich nations. But there was “stiff resistance from developed countries.”

“The mechanism of ratcheting up would thus help reduce the risk of locking in irreversible emission trajectories,” said Mr Zhakata.

“Africa would want this mechanism to be extended to financing for adaptation as well. It should review the respective mitigation component of INDCs and their adequacy as well as fairness in relation to others.

“It should also allow for the regular setting and adjusting of targets for financial support.”

The civic society has raised concerns that the Paris talks will not deliver ambition and hope for the poor, given what they witnessed at the Bonn meeting.

“We are worried that the Paris agreement will lead to the ‘Great Escape’ of developed countries in meeting their commitments and their historical responsibility,” said Ms Meena Raman of Third World Network in Malaysia.

Azeb Girmai of LDC Watch in Ethiopia brought up that social movements actually have clear demands towards Paris.

“We need to address the urgency of the climate crisis. No more delays — developed countries have to cut 50 percent over 1990 levels before we even get to 2020. In the same pre-2020 time period they also need to get the money to the GCF and fund the technology needs,” he said.

With a warming of just 0,7 degrees Celsius in the past century, Zimbabwe has suffered repeated catastrophic droughts and frequent devastating flash flooding.

At the global scale, the 0,8 degrees Celsius temperature rise in the last hundred years has caused a littany of extreme events, from the repeated tropical cyclones in the Phillipines to the drought, hunger and famine in north-east Africa, killing tens of thousands.

But even when confronted by all such evidence, the Bonn talks failed to demonstrate the kind of urgency needed to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

Mr Zhakata said the negotiations at Bonn were “critical, not just in shaping the Paris agreement, but also in achieving a common understanding on a range of important issues to be included in the text of the future climate change agreement..”

“The future of economic development of countries will be governed by climate change treaties or agreements,” he said.

“We continue to stand by our stance that developed countries must focus on helping those most affected by, and in the weakest position to cope with climate change, acknowledging they are part of the problem and solution, ensuring that all climate actions respect and promote human rights and gender equality.”

God is faithful.

Source : The Herald