With thanks to Sara Stefanini, Marion Solletty and Cynthia Kroet.
BONN FIRE — TRUMP FACES CLIMATE REBELLION AT GLOBAL SUMMIT: A political drama is unfolding in the corridors of the COP23 climate conference in Bonn:Democratic Party governors and scores of other U.S. lawmakers and mayors over the weekend orchestrated a highly choreographed campaign to persuade world leaders that U.S. President Donald Trump doesn’t speak for the country when it comes to climate change. “We are still in!” Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland told cheering activists over the weekend. “I want to make it clear: The federal government is not just the president of the United States.” Our U.S. colleagues David Siders and Emily Holden have the story, or find it below.
— White House pushes business interests: The centerpiece of the U.S. presence in Bonn this week will be an event tonight, when government officials and industry executives are expected urge developing countries to pursue “cleaner” fossil fuels and nuclear power. The White House source said State Department diplomats and Trump aides would not engage on remaining in the 2015 Paris agreement, which Trump has said he would exit unless he got terms more favorable to U.S. businesses. Emily and David have the story, or find it below.
— On Washington’s expected coal push… Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, president of the COP23 summit, did not attack the U.S. head on but underlined that coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, is indisputably bad for the climate. “I really don’t want to get into an argument with the United States of America, but we all know what coal does and we all know the effects of coal mining and of coal,” Bainimarama told reporters Sunday. “There is really no need to talk about coal because we all know what coal does with regard to climate change.”
**A message from GasNaturally: Gas is a central element of a modern energy system. It is instrumental in heating, cooling, power generation and transport. Innovative technologies, such as micro-CHP, gas-fired fuel cells and gas heat pumps, are providing cost-effective options. To achieve a clean energy future. Get the full picture here.**
GOOD MORNING AND WELCOME TO MONDAY! We’ve entered the second and final week of the COP23 summit hosted by Fiji in Bonn, where negotiators from nearly 200 countries are working on the rules to make sure they meet the Paris climate agreement’s goals. To get you up to speed on what’s driving the talks, read on. Plus, we’ve got news from the U.K., where Environment Secretary Michael Gove is looking to set up a new regulator to ensure green standards are kept up after Brexit.
COP23 — WORLD WARMS AS NEGOTIATORS TALK: Patience is running out as negotiators continue tedious talks over rules for the Paris agreement. Global temperatures have kept rising since the deal was reached in 2015. That, according to prominent U.S. climate scientist James Hansen, underscores his point that the accord is “a fraud.” “Here all the delegates are, clapping each other on the back and congratulating each other for agreeing that the climate issue is real and something should be done about it,” said Hansen, who headed NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and now teaches at Columbia University. “But no effective actions were undertaken.” Check out Sara’s story from Bonn or find it below, and read on for more from Hansen.
— The problem with past climate deals: Hansen argues the Paris agreement is headed down the same path as the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, drafted in 1992 and laying the ground for annual climate summits, and the Kyoto Protocol from 1997, requiring emissions cuts from wealthy countries: No results. “In fact, global emissions actually accelerated, the growth rate increased,” he said of the 1990s. Still, the EU reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 23 percent between 1990 and 2016 while its GDP grew by 53 percent — something the bloc’s negotiator Elina Bardram underlined on Friday.
— Tax carbon: That’s the most effective way to force drastic emission cuts, especially from energy generation, Hansen said. “You can never solve the problem as long as you let fossil fuels be the cheapest form of energy. What you should do is have a gradually rising carbon fee that you would collect at domestic mines and ports of entry, which has to be done by individual nations.” Instead of having “hoaky cap-and-trade” schemes, the U.S., China (which is expected to announce its emissions trading system as early as this week), and the EU should go for a carbon tax, and “put border duties on production from countries that do not have an equivalent,” Hansen added.
**Watch live on Thursday, November 23 from 6:30 PM CET: POLITICO’s (BOLD) event “Post COP 23 – The changing dynamics of climate diplomacy,” as part of the Energy Visions series, presented by Shell.**
COP23 — DON’T WAIT FOR 2020: Tensions in Bonn flared at the end of last week, with developing countries such as Brazil calling on the developed world to give more prominence to the issue of what countries are doing to cut emissions until 2020. The Kyoto Protocol and the subsequent Doha amendment should cover that period, but not everyone has ratified Doha, including the EU. “We have been urging all countries to ratify the Doha amendment and to continue commitment to that,” Antonio Marcondes, Brazil’s chief negotiator, said Friday. There’s one EU member blocking the bloc’s full ratification: Poland, next year’s COP24 summit host, which has to yet to adopt it.
— The EU responds: The idea that the EU and others don’t consider efforts to 2020 as important is a “misperception,” Bardram said Friday. “We do — categorically, I will insist on that.” Beyond that, Bardram stressed that regardless of whether it has ratified the Doha amendment, EU legislation already requires its members to meet the Doha commitments. However, she did add that the EU hopes it can deposit its ratification with the U.N. in the coming months if not weeks.
BREXIT — UK SEARCHES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATOR: The U.K. government plans to set up a “world-leading” independent watchdog to protect environmental standards post-Brexit, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said Sunday, adding that the U.K. has to “enhance environmental standards as we leave the EU.” London plans to consult on how to establish such a body. “It will be placed on a statutory footing, ensuring it has clear authority. Its ambition will be to champion and uphold environmental standards, always rooted in rigorous scientific evidence,” he said.
— Brexit leaves regulatory oversight hole: Environmentalists worry that once the U.K. has left the EU it will no longer be subject to the bloc’s environmental regulations and oversight from the EU’s top courts and the European Commission. Instead, they fear the government could erode rules to gain a competitive advantage for British businesses. For background, read Marion and my earlier deep-dive into the issue.
POWER/FUELS — ITALY SHOOTS FOR GREEN: Italy will aim to stop using coal by 2025, as part of a national energy strategy finalized on Friday. The strategy is based on three objectives: reduce Italian energy prices to be in line with those elsewhere in the EU, bolster energy security and surpass the EU’s 2030 climate change goals in line with the Paris agreement. Coal fueled 16 percent of Italy’s power supplies in 2015, and 8 gigawatts of capacity will have to be shut to meet the 2025 goal. That’s expected to cut CO2 emissions by 63 percent by 2030 (from 1990 levels), compared to 27 percent without the phase-out. Italy wants to be fossil fuel-free by 2050, reaching an 80 percent reduction. It also aims to hike the share of total renewable energy use from 17.5 percent in 2015 to 28 percent in 2030, including a 55 percent share of the power mix.
— Gas comes out on top: Natural gas is expected to make up for coal-fired power, with its generation rising from 111 terawatt hours in 2015 to 118 terawatt hours in 2030. To improve security, the strategy calls to diversify Italy’s gas supply to make sure it’s competitive and for “geopolitical reasons.”
ENVIRONMENT — NEW COMPROMISES ON EU WASTE RULES: EU experts on Thursday consider a revised Council position on the main policy proposals for waste. The new position is expected to include compromises, obtained by Marion, which came out of a negotiation session with the European Parliament in late October. New provisions encourage EU countries to reduce marine litter and draft waste prevention programs. National governments would also have to set up separate collection for waste oils. Compromise proposals on separate collection for bio-waste, paper, metal, plastic, glass and textiles, put forward by the Commission, still have to be agreed by EU countries, however.
— NGOs mostly pleased with the Commission’s compromise proposals: “It’s very good that the institutions are looking into closing any loopholes that could be used to derogate from the mandatory separate collection,” said Piotr Barczak, waste policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau.
— Fight against marine litter lack clear targets: While everyone agrees on pledging to cut marine litter, only the European Parliament wants a quantitative (although not binding) target to halve marine litter by 2030, including targeted prevention measures from national governments. “That is really a shame,” Barczak said. “It seems member states do not take seriously what they have once agreed at the U.N. level through the Sustainable Development Goals and are not really serious to implement it at the EU and national level.”
CLIMATE — EU AND SWITZERLAND TO LINK CARBON MARKETS: EU countries on Friday approved an agreement to link the carbon markets of the EU and Switzerland, with an official signing scheduled to “take place soon,” according to the Council. Before the agreement can enter into force, however, Switzerland needs to bring aviation into its trading market, the Council said. The agreement, which was seven years in the making, now has to be approved by the European Parliament.
— Better together: The hope is that linking the two emissions trading systems will help strengthen them and “ultimately create a solid international carbon market,” the Council said.
— EU carbon market reform takes its first hurdle: The Estonian Council presidency late last week briefed EU ambassadors on the outcome of Thursday’s political deal on the Emissions Trading System reform, one step in the process to formally approve the agreement.“There was no significant discussion, with only a few delegations taking the floor with their initial reaction,” a spokesperson said, adding that the presidency expects “more substantial views” on November 22. That includes Poland, which has in the past threatened not to support the final reform. For a broad overview of the deal’s expected impact on the carbon market, Thomson Reuters analysts put together a summary.
— QUICK HITS:
German Greens reiterate coal exit arguments: The Greens’ demand to quit coal is one of the many tricky issues potential coalition partners have to overcome in forming a new German government. Germany’s Tagesspiegel has more.
New compromise for standby power emissions limits: The Estonian presidency is proposing setting an emissions limit on new power plants that are paid to provide backup power capacity after 2025, weakening the European Commission’s proposal, according to the latest draft compromise.
U.N. recommends weaker biofuel rules for airplanes: The U.N.’s aviation agency on Friday recommended removing sustainability criteria for biofuels in international flights in a compromise with developing countries, Reuters reported. According to Transport & Environment, an NGO, the move means that unsustainable biofuels would qualify for aviation’s global carbon offsetting scheme. Final biofuel criteria are expected in June.
Energy giants battle with changing times: The FT takes a look at the business challenges that Siemens and GE face in shifting away from conventional energy sources to renewables.
Greece faces air pollution legal challenge: Two of Greece’s major coal plants face a legal challenge from NGOs Client Earth and WWF Greece for alleged failure to comply with EU rules, the NGOs said on Friday. Greece’s environment ministry in September renewed the plants’ permits for 10 years without first doing an environmental impact assessment as required by the EU, the groups said.
**A message from GasNaturally:GasNaturally, a partnership composed of six associations from across the whole gas value chain in Europe ― IOGP, GIE, Eurogas, NGVA Europe, GERG and Marcogaz ― promotes the role of gas in making a clean future real. Allowing gas to play its full role in the energy mix will help Europe to reach its 2030 climate and energy objectives and its commitments under the Paris Agreement. Gas is part of the solution to rapidly address climate change. This is why every day the gas industry works on new, innovative solutions to reduce emissions further and enable the energy transition at the lowest cost. This includes power-to-gas, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), renewable gases and hydrogen from steam-methane reforming with CO2 capture. See how gas forms a central element of a modern energy system.**
*** POLITICO Pro Articles ***
Top Democrats stage anti-Trump revolt at Bonn climate summit
— By David Siders and Emily Holden
BONN, Germany — A handful of Democratic governors and scores of other lawmakers and mayors are mounting an insurgency at the United Nations climate conference here, orchestrating a highly choreographed campaign to persuade world leaders that President Donald Trump doesn’t speak for the United States on climate change.
Several Democratic U.S. senators began meeting last week with officials from other countries, seeking to minimize Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Meanwhile, the governors of California, Virginia, Oregon and Washington — along with mayors from throughout the nation — were expected to touch off a blitz of public appearances at the conference as the meeting enters its final week.
“We are still in!” Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland told cheering activists Saturday at a pavilion set up just outside the official meeting zone, a de facto headquarters for the opposition. “I want to make it clear: The federal government is not just the president of the United States.”
The Democrats’ diplomacy — part lobbying, part public relations — comes amid widespread international concern about Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris accord. War-torn Syria announced last week that it would join the agreement, leaving the United States — if it goes through with its withdrawal — as the only country in the world outside of the pact.
On Saturday, Democratic politicians, climate activists and like-minded business interests sought to present the United States as a country divorced from its president. Speakers repeated the slogan, “We are still in,” a message splayed across an electronic ticker and on buttons at the unofficial U.S. pavilion. The pavilion’s estimated $235,000 cost was being covered by a coalition including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer.
Steyer, who is spending millions of dollars on a national television ad campaign calling for Trump’s impeachment, was expected to outline his case for Trump’s ouster in a speech here Sunday.
While pavilion organizers plied guests with big-name speakers and free beer and wine, a subtler campaign was unfolding inside the conference halls. Starting late last week, a small delegation of U.S. senators, including Cardin, Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) — began meeting with officials from other countries in an effort to assuage nerves about Trump. Schatz said he and other lawmakers met with delegations from India and Japan and were planning to meet with representatives of the European Union, Mexico, Indonesia and Canada.
The senators argued Trump could not quickly undo eight years of Obama-era climate policies or significantly affect state-level efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“I think that there’s an understanding of the American system of government, which is sometimes cumbersome and slow, and frustratingly so, but in this instance it works in favor of climate action,” said Schatz. “Whatever the president’s rhetoric, he can’t prevent us from moving forward on clean energy.”
Following a meeting with Mexican officials, Markey said Saturday, “Obviously, I think it’s important for them to understand that there are 30 states that have renewable electricity standards, that the fuel economy standards are still the federal law, that the appliance efficiency standards are still federal law.”
Democrats trying to thwart attacks on climate action have bureaucracy, the courts and a narrowly divided Congress that often gets stuck in legislative stalemates, on their side. Although Republicans control Congress and the White House, they need 60 votes to proceed to most legislation.
The Trump administration is moving to undo President Barack Obama’s climate standards — including carbon limits for the roughly one-third of emissions that come from the power sector. Those regulatory rollbacks could take years and will have to stand up to legal review, but in the meantime, the federal government will not move forward to curb greenhouse gases.
Markey promised Democrats will fight to maintain fuel economy standards and will block any effort to cut back wind and solar tax credits. He told a crowd on Saturday that Trump has “assembled a Cabinet of big oil all-stars” but that, “On our side, we have 100 years of science and nearly 100 percent of the scientists in the planet. And inside the United States, we have city after city, state after state, standing up to take action.”
Diplomats are paying close attention to American representatives pledging to keep fighting climate change, said Jens Mattias Clausen, a Copenhagen-based climate change adviser for Greenpeace who is attending the talks.
The most important thing those representatives can do is “show the rest of the world that even if the Trump administration refuses to face reality here and continues with this very isolationist style that the rest of the U.S. is actually ready to step up and help with the commitments that they have,” Clausen said. In terms of specific numbers they can offer “the more concrete it gets…the better,” he added.
Brown and Bloomberg are leading a group called America’s Pledge, which aims to release more specific reduction commitments from states and localities next year. On Saturday, they released a report asserting the combined economic power of every state and city that has committed to the Paris agreement would outmatch every country except for China and the U.S.
Yet even their own report acknowledged, as previous studies have, that non-federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not sufficient to meet the United States’ commitments under the Paris agreement given Trump’s stated policies. And local and state climate efforts are fraught with their own, internal disagreements about how aggressively sub-national governments should pursue climate policies on their own. On Saturday, California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown had a speech interrupted for an extended period by activists protesting California’s cap-and-trade program and its permissiveness of hydraulic fracturing.
“You have a positive message insofar as what individual states and individuals are doing” about climate change,” Mairead McGuinness, a member of the European Parliament, told Brown at a forum last week.
However, she said, “Sometimes when we make a step forward, there are forces that ask us to step back by half.”
McGuinness added, “One of the comments we hear from EU citizens is that, why should we act when others are not?”
For all of the Democrats’ efforts, Trump looms large over the conference, and the power of the White House is not lost on the international community. Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, is publicly promoting coal production. He has said he is withdrawing from the Paris agreement because it puts the United States at a “big economic disadvantage.”
Last week’s elections in the United States provided a rare, positive talking point for Democrats trying to combat Trump’s message in Bonn. The Democrats’ sweep in in the off-year contests, they said, presaged a return to Democratic power in Washington and re-engagement in climate talks abroad.
“Tuesday’s election marked that Trump is alone and isolated,” said Garrett Blad, executive director of the SustainUS, a youth advocacy group. “It’s going to be our job back home — 2018 is going to be a huge year with the elections — to make sure that states … are moving forward with the most aggressive action that we can.”
When Bloomberg mentioned Saturday that the official U.S. delegation to the conference under Trump was preparing to host a controversial panel on Monday on the use of fossil fuels, the crowd booed.
“The Trump administration did send a delegation here to Bonn, and it might be the first climate conference where — this is not a joke, folks — coal is being promoted as an example of sustainability,” Bloomberg said.
He added, “It will also likely be the last. The world is moving on, and so is the United States.”
Former Vice President Al Gore, a major draw for climate activists at the conference, told POLITICO in an interview Saturday that commitments made by states, cities and businesses all “adds up to a very impressive reduction in U.S. emissions.”
He added, “I mean, [Trump] can prohibit EPA employees from talking to the public, and he can remove the word ‘climate’ from all the government websites. But he can’t stop the technological and business revolution that’s gaining speed around the world and especially in the U.S.”
Sara Stefanini contributed to this report.
US climate delegation won’t outline conditions to stick with Paris deal
— By Emily Holden and David Siders
BONN, Germany — The Trump administration does not plan to give international diplomats any clues about how they could convince the U.S. to stay in a global agreement to fight climate change but will use meetings this week as an opportunity to promote U.S. coal, gas and nuclear companies, according to a White House official.
The centerpiece of the White House presence at the climate talks in Bonn, Germany, will be a Monday evening presentation where government officials and industry executives will urge developing countries to pursue “cleaner” fossil fuel and nuclear power — a pitch that could be meant to widen the market for American energy exports.
The White House source said State Department diplomats and Trump aides would not engage on remaining in the 2015 Paris agreement, which Trump has said he would exit unless he got terms more favorable to U.S. businesses.
“We’re not going to address that issue,” the official said on an embargoed call with reporters on Thursday. “The president has left the door open, the president has said multiple times that he’s willing to reconsider our engagement in the Paris agreement if we can find a fairer deal that works for American businesses, taxpayers, consumers, so yeah it’s up to the president.”
Trump has never repudiated his view that man-made climate change is a hoax, although the White House has since said he “believes the climate is changing” without elaborating on the cause. But the lack of engagement from his negotiating team suggests he has little interest in reaching a better deal to limit global greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S. panel is not expected to discuss ways to reach the Paris agreement goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid a 2 degrees Celsius rise above pre-industrial levels, which scientists say would be a dangerous tipping point.
“The president believes that we can reduce our emissions while growing our economy,” the White House official said.
Climate activists were mulling protest actions ahead of the Monday night forum, while fearing the event would only further cast a shadow over the United States’ role in the conference.
“It’s what you expect when we have fossil fuel billionaires running our government,” said Garrett Blad, executive director of the SustainUS, a youth advocacy group. “I think it’s irresponsible and dangerous, and I think the American people know that and are on our side.”
Former Vice President Al Gore said he expected the forum would do little to alter dynamics of the conference.
“I think that people will see it for what it is,” he said in an interview. “The president has surrounded himself with some of the most notorious climate deniers, and people who come to these meeting know who these characters are, and I think they see it for what it is.”
The White House official said he didn’t expect other countries to ask what kind of deal the president is looking for, adding that the United Nations conference “is really not the place for that to happen,” and that the conversation would be more likely to occur between world leaders. Trump returns Tuesday from a 12-day trip to Asia, which included meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other heads of state. He did not mention climate change once while abroad.
The Trump administration is rolling back President Barack Obama’s climate efforts and also trying to boost coal-fired power–a major driver of rising temperatures that are making seas swell and extreme weather intensify.
Despite Trump’s stance, a delegation of career officials from the State Department is on site at the United Nations conference to represent U.S. interests as countries negotiate how they will achieve and verify their commitments to curb emissions.
In the discussion Monday, George David Banks, special assistant to President Trump on energy and environment, will make introductory remarks. Francis Brooke, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, will moderate the talk among executives from the liquefied natural gas company Tellurian, the coal company Peabody Energy and the nuclear power company NuScale, as well as Barry Worthington, director of the U.S. Energy Association.
The panel will outline ways U.S. could encourage developing countries to build “cleaner, more efficient,” fossil fuel plants to mitigate climate change, the White House source told reporters last week.
Worthington told Climate Home News that striking fossil fuel trade deals was a major objective of the discussion.
“The flavor du jour is LNG but we’re also exporting crude oil and derivative products and continue to export a sizeable volume of coal,” he told the outlet.
The White House source said climate mitigation is a “lesser priority” than energy security and economic development, “but it’s still a priority.”
Without U.S. involvement, “the Chinese will build the coal plants and use inefficient technology,” the official said.
“Quite frankly, if we don’t bring it up and want to engage people on it, it’s just not going to happen,” he said. “It’s burying your head in the sand if you don’t have a conversation, just simply because of the facts, again because of the role coal is going to play in the energy mix…because of the role that natural gas is going to play.”
The official cited International Energy Agency projections that natural gas demand will grow 50 percent and coal demand will increase by 2040, especially in South and Southeast Asia. And he pointed to reports that at least 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, according to the environmental group Urgewald. Chinese companies are reportedly planning many of them, but the Chinese government in January canceled plans for 103 plants.
As part of the Paris agreement, China pledged to begin shrinking total emissions by 2030. Trump has said it’s unfair that China would be able to keep increasing its carbon output in the meantime, although the U.S. over time has contributed more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than any other nation and China’s economy was slower to begin growing.
The White House official did not explain how the U.S. would seek to push of more efficient coal plants abroad, but he said the conversation in Bonn Monday would cover “high efficiency, low emissions coal, but then also the more advanced technologies that either improve efficiency, or the carbon capture and utilization pieces.”
Trump on his trip to Asia last week unveiled a slate of deals with China, but none were to promote more efficient coal-fired power plants. One is for sales and rentals of Caterpillar mining equipment to China’s largest coal mining company and another is a joint venture between a U.S. industrial gases company and state-owned Chinese firm to build a coal-to-syngas facility, according to Bloomberg. Trump’s travels focused far more on promoting the export of U.S. liquefied natural gas.
World keeps warming while climate negotiators keep talking
— By Sara Stefanini
BONN, Germany — Thousands of people at an international climate summit are spending two weeks negotiating the minutiae of technical rules about commitments made during the Paris climate talks two years ago.
The negotiators want to lay the groundwork for a major boost in pledges to battle climate change from countries at the same gathering next year. Their goal, spelled out in the Paris accord, is to limit the temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and eventually 1.5 degrees, by 2100.
In the meantime, the world keeps getting hotter, and potential side effects, like tropical storms, floods and droughts, continue to worsen.
“Countries are acting like, ‘Oh, we agreed there’s a problem,’ but the actions they’re taking are negligible,” said James Hansen, a prominent U.S. climate scientist who headed NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and now teaches at Columbia University.
There’s a growing disconnect between tangible climate changes and existing national commitments, as highlighted by data released just ahead of the COP23 summit here in Bonn. This year appears on track to be one of the three hottest years on record, with global temperatures averaging 1.1 degrees above pre-industrial levels in the first nine months, the World Meteorological Organization said Monday.
The climate pledges countries have so far submitted under the Paris deal, meanwhile, would actually make a temperature increase of at least 3 degrees by the end of the century “very likely,” U.N. Environment said last week — slower than without, but falling short of the deal’s goals.
That raises questions about the utility of the effort taking place in Bonn, where a particularly vulnerable island nation, Fiji, is hosting the summit at the U.N. Climate Change headquarters.
“With the low ambition currently, we are left behind,” Collin Beck, the negotiator for the Solomon Islands, said of the world’s least developed countries. “If we don’t do something within the next 10 years, then we really have a very uncertain future for many of our people.”
The task in Bonn is to make sure the Paris agreement gets the world to shoot for the 1.5-degree goal, he added.
The Paris agreement’s rulebook isn’t due until the end of next year, which means negotiators are mostly going over options and scenarios for issues like financial aid and clean technology transfer from rich to poor countries, rather than wrangling over big political decisions.
But pressure is mounting to move from talking about tackling climate change to actually doing it.
“The Paris agreement was significant because all the countries in the world have now signed it — Syria was the last one,” California Governor Jerry Brown said at a German Marshall Fund conference in Brussels Thursday. “But the next step is, what are the individual emissions?”
While negotiators are quick to talk about urgency, their calls for ambition are growing more awkward as the focus of talks shifts from the Paris agreement’s headline goals to more politically fraught issue of how countries are translating them into policies.
“For political leaders, the climate change topic is not one that propels them forward for the most part,” Brown said, pointing to jobs, crime and terrorism as more concrete issues for politicians. “Climate change is a generalization.”
The problem in Bonn is that the talks are stuck on complex rules that fail to spark much public or political excitement outside the halls of the summit’s Bula zone — named for the Fijian word for hello, goodbye, love and other things — where negotiations are split into technical groups.
And it’s very difficult for countries to pull back from the intricacies of negotiating global accounting standards and look at the broader picture of whether the Paris process is going to end up being enough to bring global warming under control.
The EU’s chief negotiators, for instance, used a COP23 press conference Monday to once again tout the energy and climate policies the bloc is putting in place for 2030 and its “very robust” target to cut emissions by at least 40 percent by then, compared to 1990 levels.
But that’s a goal set in back in 2014, and there’s little political appetite for moving much faster.
“It’s worthwhile to appreciate that raising the headline number is not the only indication of ambition — delivering on what you promised is pretty ambitious as well, and we’re certainly moving on that,” said Elina Bardram, the European Commission’s negotiator.