• November 6, 2017

    UN Climate Talks Underway in Bonn, Germany

    Stephen Eule

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries are gathering in Bonn, Germany over the next two weeks to hash out details of the Paris Agreement on climate changes agreed to two years ago. The talks are being held under the rubric of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Paris Agreement remains very much a work in progress, with many issues still on the table—and the list keeps growing. But there are a couple of things that we expect the negotiators will be prioritizing, such as the “Rulebook” of guidelines to implement the Paris Agreement and the “Facilitative Dialogue” scheduled for 2018. While the focus will be on mitigation, we believe more attention should be dedicated to adaptation and resilience than in the past.

Here are a few things the Global Energy Institute will be watching out for over the coming two weeks.

First up is transparency. The issue of transparency, including measuring, reporting and verification (MRV), will have a big impact on how countries and their business communities track implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions. Such guidance should be flexible enough to account for different national circumstances yet robust enough to reliably and efficiently track and report.

The Paris Agreement also calls for a Facilitative Dialogue in 2018 to assess national and international commitments. This will be followed by a series of global stocktakes at five-year intervals. The UNFCCC should consider ways to invite and incorporate the perspectives of business (and other stakeholders) into both Facilitative Dialogue and the subsequent global stock-takes beginning in 2023. As the sector most responsible for developing and adopting new practices and technologies, business is positioned uniquely to provide insights and experience that will be relevant to these periodic assessments. Together with its coalition partners in the Major Economies Business Forum on Energy Security and Climate Change (BizMEF), GEI intends to continue working to provide such input.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) may also be the agenda in Bonn. The pace and extent of technology innovation will have the biggest impact on emissions going forward. Innovation requires substantial investment and risk-taking by the private sector and researchers that can occur only under stable legal and regulatory regimes that include, among other things, respect for IPR. Without strong IPR protections, there is little incentive for companies to invest. GEI will be looking to the Trump Administration to beat back any proposals to weaken IPRs in the Paris Agreement.

Business engagement with the UNFCC is another area we’ll be focusing on. Over the past few years, there have been many new institutions set up under the UNFCCC on finance, technology, and other issues of concern to business. GEI believes the most effective way for business to engage with these and other entities that will undoubtedly emerge as part of the Paris Agreement is through a single business channel through which businesses around the world could interact with the UNFCCC.

Despite the clear need for greater business input, some Parties and non-governmental organizations would like to see businesses banned from observing the UNFCCC meetings over so-called “conflicts of interest,” something we’ve blogged on before. We’re confident that most UNFCCC Parties recognize the irreplaceable role of the private sector and understand that, ultimately, it will be the private sector that develops, finances, builds, and operates the new energy and other technologies of the future. Like with IPRs, we’ll be counting on the U.S. negotiators to lead the charge against any attempts to silence business.

GEI also will be participating with our BizMEF colleagues in a couple of events in Bonn that we’ll be reporting on in future posts. So stay tuned, the fun just started.