The annual UN Climate Change Conference in the German city of Bonn began on Monday, designed to lay the groundwork for a successful COP27, due to take place in the Egyptian coastal resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh, in November.
Governments are meeting for the first time since the conclusion of COP26 in Glasgow last November, which saw the operational details of the 2015 Paris Agreement successfully finalized, paving the way for its implementation.
In Bonn, governments will focus on work in the key areas of mitigation, adaptation, support to developing countries - particularly finance - and loss and damage, according to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat, UNFCCC.
Speaking to delegates at the opening of the Bonn sessions, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said that there needed to be “political-level interventions and decisions in each of these areas in order to achieve a balanced package.
Message to the world
“Doing so will send a clear message to the world that we are headed in the right direction. Because the world is going to have one question in Sharm El-Sheikh: what progress have you made since Glasgow?”
With 197 official Parties, the convention has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, which aims to keep global average temperature rise this century, to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The UN’s top climate change official warned that climate change is progressing exponentially.
With the world currently on track to more than double the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Agreement by the end of the century, ambition must urgently be raised to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and immediate action and progress in Bonn are needed.
“We must move these negotiations along more quickly. The world expects it”, said Ms. Espinosa.
“They know that while nations made a commitment to meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees goal, that commitment entailed accelerated action and increased climate ambition. It is not acceptable to say that we are in challenging times - they know that climate change is not an agenda we can afford to push back on our global schedule," she said.
COP27 in Egypt will primarily focus on implementation, said the UN climate change body, and nations are expected to show how they will, through legislation, policies and programmes, begin putting the ambitious Paris Agreement into practice, at home.
In a powerful address, Ms. Espinosa announced the end of her term in office after six years at the helm of the UN climate change secretariat.
She urged delegates to continue to support its work, and “inclusive multilateralism”, which encompasses the work of all key stakeholders to address climate change.
“Look at what we’ve accomplished in the last six years”, she said. “Look at what we’ve accomplished in the last 30. While we are still very much behind the climate curve, the world is in a better position because of the UNFCCC, because of the Kyoto Protocol, because of the Paris Agreement. Because of collaboration. Because of multilateralism. Because of you. But we can do better, we must.”
The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the ground-breaking 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC, is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, and a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.