Governments at Bonn climate talks apparently lose memo on people’s support for climate action

Bonn, Germany  - Saturday, October 25, 2014: Growing momentum for climate action has not been transferred from the streets of New York, where last month 400,000 people marched together, to the halls of the UN climate negotiations this week, according to Climate Action Network’s members.   

Christian Aid’s Mohamed Adow said: “The scientists have spoken - the climate is changing, it’s caused by us, and we have the solutions. Economists have confirmed the transition to a low carbon economy has multiple benefits.” 

“The people have taken to the streets in unprecedented numbers to  support accelerated climate action, but governments in Bonn have not taken these cues,” Adow said. 

Governments - who gathered for the final session before the major talks of the year in Lima get under way on December 1 - missed an opportunity to shift gears in negotiations towards the global Paris agreement on climate change due at the end of next year.

Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists said: “"we're leaving Bonn with not much more clarity than when we arrived on how we will get the key decisions needed in Lima to confront the threat of climate change."  

“From floods and droughts to hurricanes, typhoons, and heat waves, the world is already suffering from the consequences of our past inaction.  Countries must bring more to the table in Lima than the least common denominator, if they are to build the climate-friendly future that their citizens deserve, and are increasingly demanding," Meyer said. 

The mood of the meeting was affected by the release of the European Union’s new climate action targets for 2030 on Friday. According to Greenpeace’s Head of Delegation, Martin Kaiser, unless national legislation and regulation is put in place, the continent will effectively forgo the opportunity to phase out coal use by 2030. 

“This decision is not in line with a scaling up of the transition towards 100% renewable energy which scientists have said is vital if we are to secure a safe climate. For ordinary Europeans, this decision will mean that many will remain unnecessarily dependent on dirty sources of power with all the security, health and cost implications that this brings.”

In Lima, countries have to decide what they should include as part of their climate action commitments towards the Paris agreement which they need to put on the table early next year. They have to work out a meaningful way the UN process can contribute to countries scaling up climate action before the Paris agreement comes into effect in 2020. 

Tasneem Essop, WWF’s Head of Delegation to the UNFCCC says,  “There has to be a sense of urgency and we need parties to move from talk shop mode to negotiation mode, and we can only do this if we can start negotiations on the first day of the Lima COP. To coin a phrase from the People’s Climate March in New York last month – to change everything, we need everyone. The time is now, the place is Lima and we are the people and leaders who must act once and for all to curb runaway climate change. This is a moment that will go down in history. We must be on the right side of history.”

Governments can show they mean business before arriving in Lima by putting money on the table for developing countries to take their own climate action, at the Green Climate Fund’s pledging conference in Berlin next month. 

With 2014 on track to be the hottest year in history, it’s time for negotiations to feel the heat. Scientists will bring compelling evidence of the need to speed up the transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy to governments’ attention in Copenhagen next week as they sign off on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s synthesis of its Fifth Assessment Report. 

Contact: Ria Voorhaar, Climate Action Network, on: +49 157 3173 5568, rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org.

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