Monday, May 8, 2017

Opening Plenaries at the Bonn Climate Change Conference May 2017

This morning was the Opening Plenary session for the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn. Most of the Opening Plenary consisted of establishing the working groups and procedures for the rest of the conference; these working groups will focus on various agenda items and have their recommendations ready before the Closing Plenary. Parties to the Conference were able to provide comments on certain agenda items, and there were two main areas of emphasis: the need for transparency in climate finance and accounting (to avoid double counting), and the need to consider indigenous peoples when implementing clean development and adaptation measures. There was also discussion about the need to account for emissions from fuel used for international aviation and maritime transport, and a call for international standards on data collection and a collective strategy for reducing greenhouse gases in this sector. The goal is for a plan by the end of 2018, implemented through the International Maritime Organization. After this discussion, NGOs provided comments, which included concern (and disdain) for agriculture, forestry and other land use offsets, the lack of attention given to food security, and the need to address issues that affect youth, calling for a joint platform by SBSTA and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to elevate issues that affect youth and indigenous peoples. 

Following the SBSTA was the Opening Plenary for the SBI.  Comments from the Chair, Mr. Tomasz Chruszczow, included that progress made in Paris was irreversible and irrevocable, that we need to demonstrate trust for State and non-State actors, and that we all needed to work together against our biggest competitor: time.

During this opening session, Ambassador Khan of Fiji was introduced.  Fiji will head the next Conference of the Parties (COP) in November in Bonn. Ambassador Khan expressed concern for those in the Pacific facing Cyclone Donna, the worst cyclone on record in May; she cited this cyclone as an example of why Fiji felt compelled to host the next COP.  Fiji has been working with the German government and the UNFCCC to prepare for the COP and welcomes any and all opportunities to engage with interested parties.  The Prime Minister of Fiji will be visiting the conference next week to echo these sentiments. 

The agenda for the next two weeks promises to be full and lively.  I look forward to the progress towards implementing the Paris Agreement.

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