The influence of the fossil fuel industry and other polluting industries has become a central topic of concern for governments.
The issue of conflicts of interest and how to best ensure the integrity of the UNFCCC process once again dominated the climate talks in Bonn, Germany as governments launched what is meant to be a formative year for climate policy.
Talks on developing a conflict of interest policy ended with a mandate to talk more next time.
The African Group, Ecuador and Cuba and the Africa group had advocated such a policy which is opposed by the US, EU, Canada, Norway and Australia.
Both sides have agreed to identify opportunities “to further enhance the openness, transparency, inclusiveness of the effective engagement of non-party stakeholders”.
“Once again, the United States and its pro-fossil fuel allies are on the wrong side of history, putting big polluters before people and the planet. But today’s results prove that no amount of obstruction from the U.S. and its Big Polluter allies will ultimately prevent this movement from advancing.
And while Global North obstructionism mired these talks in delays, obstruction and censorship, Global South leaders prevailed in securing a clear path forward for the conflict of interest movement, ensuring the issue will be front and center next year,” said Jesse Bragg of Corporate Accountability.
Delivering the Goals of the Paris Agreement
This year 2018 can make it or break it for climate change as the Paris Agreement passes through its first test.
Front-runner countries and civil society representatives have presented a concrete road-map of how they are enhancing climate plans by 2020 in an attempt to push other states to commit to doing the same at the upcoming UN Climate negotiations (COP24) that will be held in Katowice, Poland.
Countries need to send a clear signal in COP24 that they will enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020 if the goal to keep warming below 1.5C is to be reached.
“I would say that COP24 in Katowice is probably the most critical meeting since Paris,” said Alden Meyer, Director, Strategy and Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists. “The world will be watching to see if countries are serious about implementing and strengthening the Paris Agreement. We have a mandate to adopt a package of rules to implement the Paris agreement across a range of issues”.
Civil Society Action
A day to the end of the Bonn talks, major civil society and non-party stakeholder groups demanded that government’s follow-up the Paris Agreement with increased urgent action to prevent average global warming from rising 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
Groups highlighted that Parties must reinforce this Paris Agreement goal and commit to enhanced action as a matter of survival for vulnerable countries.
“For the world’s most vulnerable people keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees is not just a ‘nice to have’, it is essential to ensure they can maintain and improve their way of life,” said Mohamed Adow, International Climate Lead at Christian Aid.
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) also noted that climate change should no longer be isolated to environmental and scientific issue.
It stated that the issues of poverty, justice, equity, economic, humanitarian, food security and political dimensions of climate change must not be overlooked.
“It has stunted the growth of some economies while big economies fear cutting emissions will affect them,” said Olivia Adhiambo, Policy and Advocacy Manager at PACJA.
As the 2020 implementation date of the Paris Agreement draws close, it is expected that big oil and coal interest groups and climate deniers do not succeed in their struggle to undo the progress made in the fight against the climate crisis.
A popular slogan with climate activists in global climate negotiations is “kick polluters out”. But fossil fuel companies are still welcome at the UN climate talks.