By Rita Joshi
ust weeks after 176 countries and the 28-nation European Union signed the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement at the United Nations headquarters in New York, governments are gathering at the Bonn UN Climate Change Conference from May 16 to 26, 2016 in Germany.
Bonn is the seat of the UN Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) secretariat. The former West German capital also hosts the secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the UN Volunteers (UNV) together with 15 other United Nations organizations, programmes and offices.
While signing the Paris Climate Change Agreement – which sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius – on April 22 in New York, several key economies indicated that they are ready to join the treaty this year (2016), and 16 States already depositing their instruments of ratification.
The latest round of UN climate change negotiations gets underway on May 16 “with governments looking to the next steps needed to accelerate” the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and “continue the unprecedented momentum forged in 2015”, says a UNFCCC press release.
196 countries endorsed the Paris Agreement at COP21 (21st session of the conference of parties to the UN Climate Covention) in December 2015.
In order to ensure the aims and ambitions of the agreement, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to peak soon followed by quick reductions over the years ahead. In the second half of the century those emissions need to be so low they can be easily absorbed by the Earth’s natural systems such as forests and soils. Building and supporting more resilient societies and economies will also be key.
The Bonn meeting comes in advance of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to be held in Marrakech in November. There governments will begin work on the “rule book” of the Paris Agreement covering how the agreement will work in detail once it enters into force, says the UNFCCC secretariat.
Topics for the rule book include issues such as transparency on the reporting of climate action by nations as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
In view of the fact that immediate and accelerated climate action is required for governments to reach their climate goals, a key focus in Bonn will be on activities which have a high potential to curb and reduce emissions.
At a “Climate Action Fair”, governments will discuss the social and economic value of carbon, along with how to shift to cleaner public transport and to increase the energy efficiency of vehicles.
The fair will also focus on building resilience to the unavoidable impacts of climate change, with governments discussing best policies in the area of adaptation, exchanging examples of best practices and exploring funding for such activities.
Cities, regions, businesses and investors, whose actions are crucial for supporting governments to meet their climate goals, will also be present in Bonn. Many of their individual and cooperative contributions are being captured on the UN’s NAZCA (Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action) portal.
The importance of new technologies will also be on show. A German-led Clean Energy Partnership, a consortium of 20 companies, will present hydrogen vehicles that can be test-driven by delegates and media representatives.
On May 18-19, the 4th Dialogue on Action for Climate Empowerment will take place in Bonn. The Dialogue is an annual forum for Parties and stakeholders to share their experiences, exchange ideas, good practices and lessons learned in the area of climate change education and public awareness.
Another important event as part of the Bonn conference is launch the 2016 Global Youth Video Competition to be launched on May 20. It is purported to highlight climate action by youth through videos; giving them a platform to identify their successes and inspire other youth and policy-makers.
Events on May 25 will foster dialogue with previous winners of the Momentum for Change Awards, designed to celebrate results-driven and replicable climate solutions.
Numerous official side events at the Bonn meeting and will be organized under the common theme Accelerating implementation of the Paris Agreement and organized into the categories Enhancing ambition, Promoting implementation and Providing support to developing countries.