Climate Action

Tracking Bonn: The Clock is Ticking

We are now 6 months away from the COP21 Paris accords on climate change. On the final day of the Bonn Climate Conference, negotiators buckle down for their final chance to streamline the draft that will be discussed in the coming months. Thus far, observers have reported that the 90 page draft has been cut down by perhaps 5 to 10 percent— not quite enough to ensure a smooth process for future discussions. The glaring problems of funding and aid still remain unsolved, but there has been progress in clarifying the ever important finance section. A Heated Debate One point of contention has arisen from the call to raise the temperature “guardrail” from 2° C to 1.5°C. What does this mean? Currently, the international community is acting to ensure that global temperatures do not rise above a 2°C (3.6°F) threshold. This threshold number is based off research first proposed in 1977 that warns of irreversible environmental changes and increase of extreme weather disasters that will occur if the Earth warms past 2°C. More recent research suggests that if we hit 2°C we will have already created too much permanent damage, and proposes a revised threshold of 1.5°C. Several parties, including many Island nations and African countries, head the push for stricter protections. However, as it stands, further negotiation for this improvement has been blocked by Saudi Arabia, with India and China’s support. It’s Now or Never By the end of this year, politicians hope to walk out of COP21 with a 10-20 page agreement that will define international climate action for the next few decades. The June conference in Bonn is an important first step, and now we call on politicians to take a step further and respond to the urgency and gravity of the climate change issue in the months leading up to COP21.   Julie Hu, Intern