The Road to Marrakesh: Bonn Climate Talks Begin, After Paris a “New Era of Collaboration”

Bonn climate talks open this week, starting on the road to Marrakech

At the start of climate change talks this week in Bonn at UN headquarters for the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), outgoing secretary general Christiana Figueres called the historic Paris Agreement the beginning of a “new era of collaboration” for climate negotiations.

The 10-day conference in Bonn is the first UN climate meeting since COP 21 in Paris last December. After the formal signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement last month in New York, nations must now get down to hammering out details of implementation and ushering the plan into force – the focus now of COP 22 later this year in Marrakesh.

“The whole world is united in its commitment to the global goals embodied in the Paris Agreement,” Figueres said at the start of the 196-nation UN meeting on Monday. “Now we must design the details of the path to the safe, prosperous and climate-neutral future to which we all aspire.”

Only the more hardened cynics didn’t find some reason for at least guarded optimism at the conclusion of the climate talks in December. In a “Reflections Note” COP 21 president Laurent Fabius said that “our challenge now is to operationalize the Paris Agreement: to turn intended nationally determined contributions into public policies and investment plans for mitigation and adaptation and to deliver on our promises.”

“…it will be vital to maintain the spirit of Paris, to build on the momentum that was created, to respect the balance that was found and to continue working together so as to strengthen action, support and ambition, moving from a focus on negotiation to a focus on implementation and cooperation,” added Fabius in the statement.

No Paris hangover : a vulnerable stage for climate talks

The danger of the success found in Paris is letting up on the momentum. To either succumb to self-congratulatory dialog that duck the real issues, or, with the pressure now off from the high expectations of COP 21, sink back into counterproductive bickering .

“In reality the cooperation showed in Paris will mean nothing if we descend into petty squabbles now that it feels like the immediate pressure is off,” wrote Mohamed Adow in a Climate Home blog post.

The hope is that the 10-day session in Bonn will help cement the foundation of cooperation laid out in Paris. As French climate ambassador Laurence Tubiana said in an interview with the Times of India, “I think the Paris Agreement is something of a relief for every country.” Let’s hope we still feel that way at the conclusion of the talks in Bonn, and far beyond.

Following is a press release of Christiana Figueres at the opening ceremony of the talks in Bonn.

(Bonn, 16 May 2016) – Speaking at the opening of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn (16 to 26 May), the UN’s top climate change official Christiana Figueres said that following the successful conclusion of the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement in Paris last year, governments are leaving behind the phase of negotiations and entering a new era of collaboration.

The meeting comes weeks after 176 countries and the EU signed the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement clinched last year in France, and is a key planning event for the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Marrakech in November.

Addressing delegates in the opening plenary of the meeting, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres said: “The whole world is united in its commitment to the global goals embodied in the Paris Agreement, as well as to the means by which to achieve them.

Most importantly, with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, you have opened the opportunity to meet the climate change challenge to a great extent by fulfilling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

In her opening remarks, French Environment Minister and President of COP 21 (the official name of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris last year), Ségolène Royale said the 12 of December 2015 (the final day of the Paris conference, when the agreement was concluded) had shown the world that the international community is capable of unifying to respond to the global challenge of climate and to embark on the path of sustainable development.

“Since the conclusion of the Paris Agreement, our priority is to build on the ambitious, balanced and fair compromises which were reached last December, in order to reinforce action on the ground. The foundations have been laid, it is now up to us build our common house. I call on you to be builders and facilitators,” she said.

In his remarks, Salaheddine Mezouar, incoming President of the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (COP22) and Morocco’s Foreign Minister, outlined the key objectives of the meeting this November.

“Our ambition for COP 22 is to contribute to the adoption of the procedures and mechanisms to allow the Paris Agreement to be operationalized, and the adoption of an action plan for the pre-2020 period, covering mitigation, adaptation and finance, and to step up capacity building, technology transfer and transparency,” he said.

Stressing the importance of climate finance, Ms. Mezouar said COP22 would also be an occasion to draw up a road map for concrete and predictable provision of the USD 100 billion governments have agreed will be mobilized for developing countries to green their economies and adapt to climate change.

To this end, he suggested that governments, along with public and private financial institutions, consider the creation of a “Fast Track Facility” for climate finance.

Following the opening of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Ms. Figueres and the present and incoming COP Presidents planted a tree on the premises of the UN, to commemorate the signing of the Paris Agreement and to mark Earth Day 2016.

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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