In case you hadn’t noticed, there has been yet another gathering of the great and the good which began on October 19 and ended on October 23:
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Bonn Climate Change Conference took place in Bonn, Germany, from 19-23 October 2015. The meeting brought together over 2,400 participants, representing governments, observer organizations and the media, for the eleventh part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 2-11).
[…] the last in a series of meetings under the UNFCCC in preparation for the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21), scheduled to take place in December 2015, in Paris, France, aimed to advance negotiations to meet the mandate to adopt “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all parties,” which is to come into force in 2020. [my bold -hro]
The short version of the IISD’s 9,640-word summary: They came, they juggled and they missed – by the proverbial country mile (or two or three!) If you have absolutely nothing better to do, you might want to take a scroll through the IISD’s dutiful report on these proceedings (such as they were).
If your knowledge of the history of these deliberations is somewhat hazy, the first four pages offer a succinct – albeit somewhat slanted – account of the sessions that preceded these particular discussions.
Should you choose to conduct a more “in depth” reading of the most recent proceedings, you might even find yourself as amused as I was when I encountered descriptions, depictions and/or phrases such as: “non-paper” (21 instances found**)
** Unfortunately, my somewhat cursory search for a definition of “non-paper” within the confines of the UN did not appear to yield any results. But what I did stumble across is perhaps a more useful yardstick for determining the extent to which the many arms, elbows, hands, fingers etc. of the UN actually conform to that which they loftily called a Compendium of basic terminology in governance and public administration, and published in 2006. [backup of pdf here]
It appears to have been compiled by an unnamed “Committee of Experts on Public Administration” under the aegis of the UN”s very own ECOSOC. But I digress … Back to the Bonn bomb …
A little over three years ago, I took a look at some word-counts in the Rio+20 multi-page “outcome” document, where the final “score” was climate change 22, sustainable 400.
So, in the conspicuous absence of any “meat” deriving from this latest gathering of the great and the good at the Bonn bomb, I thought it might be worth undertaking a similar word-count exercise. Here’s what I found (excluding the 21 instances of “non-paper”):
A modest reversal of fortune, perhaps? Or a not particularly promising last chance for “climate change” to take centre-stage, so to speak?!
Even the IISD, in its conclusions, is far from what I would call “optimistic” about the anticipated outcome in Paris. They conclude their summary by noting (inter alia and my bold-hro):
This session was supposed to intensify the pace of text-based negotiations so that the agreement will be ready for the Paris Climate Change Conference in five-weeks’ time. By the end of the week, however, it was clear that parties had not managed to intensify the pace. If anything, they had slowed it down.
Dissatisfied with the ADP Co-Chairs’ text, parties engaged in a text re-compilation exercise, followed by a painstaking process of streamlining and clustering. Many of the compromises reached at the June and August-September sessions of the ADP disappeared, as parties returned to positions expressed in Geneva in February 2015.
some parties felt that rather than focusing on earlier found convergences and bridging proposals emerging from ADP 2-10, the draft agreement in the non-paper left a large number of crucial substantive decisions to be made after Paris, or simply “forgotten.”
As a result, ADP 2-11 began in an atmosphere of trepidation. Many were anxious to see how the ADP Co-Chairs’ non-paper would be received, given that some parties had already characterized it as a “non-starter.” In spite of its brevity, some had hoped that this text would provide a framework for focused negotiations. Instead, as one observer noted, the Co-Chairs’ text caused parties to lose faith that their issues would even be considered
Almost no time at ADP 2-11 was spent addressing the decision text necessary to flesh out the hoped-for concise agreement. The Paris package is meant to constitute of both agreement and decision text. Some had hoped for a virtuous cycle in which the details on the “how” would be captured in decision text, thus allowing the agreement only to focus on the “what,” with parties able to make compromises within the agreement text, once assurances on how issues were being dealt with in the decision text were elaborated. Instead, at ADP 2-11 a vicious cycle continued to inhibit progress, as parties were loath to remove anything from the agreement without knowing what would be in the decision text, but also found it difficult to work on decisions without knowing what would be in the agreement.[…]
Perhaps all the 2,400+ participants would have done better to stay home – and allocate the funds expended via the Bonn bomb to the UN’s appeal for more funds to address the needs of the real refugees they’ve been virtually ignoring for at least the last four years.