Kelly Rigg: From binding to fair, looking ahead at the Bonn negotiations

• May 14, 2012

I recorded the video message above on Earth Day, for the May edition of the UNFCCC newsletter. As the Bonn climate talks—the first round of UN climate negotiations since Durban in December—begin this week, I thought some of you may enjoy seeing it as well.

New year, same urgency

While they may lack the drama of their end-of-year counterparts, these preliminary talks are no less important than those that will take place in Doha, Qatar. And the urgency to take action to tackle dangerous climate change couldn’t be clearer. Next month the world will convene for the Rio+20 Summit, a stark reminder that we have been at this for 20 years. This invariably calls on us to look back at our aspirations, and our achievements. It also calls for a stock taking of where we are today.

The International Energy Agency warns that our addiction to fossil fuels puts us on a pathway to a catastrophic 6 degree Celsius warming by the end of the century. Even now, climate change impacts are hitting people around the world. And while we worked hard at COP17 and Durban, nothing changed the current ‘business as usual’ scenarios. There is so much to do, and it all starts in Bonn.

Video transcript

“As the Executive Director of the Global Campaign for Climate Action, an alliance of over 300 organizations calling for a Fair, Ambitious and Binding climate agreement – I am honoured to speak to you today.

As we prepare for Bonn it is all too easy for us – negotiators and observers alike – to fall into familiar patterns; meetings, redlines, press conferences, hallway huddles – sometimes we get lost in the bubble and it feels like we are just randomly moving chess pieces around the board.

In other words I fear that at times we hide behind the rhythm of these negotiations without truly confronting and bearing the urgency of the challenge we are charged with tackling.

Everyone involved with the UNFCCC understands the urgency demanded by the science; you don’t need to hear what that means  from me, but I feel we have to repeat it over and over again, in order to break out of business as usual and finally do what needs to be done.

The grim reality of what climate change has in store for our children’s generation is truly overwhelming, almost too much to process when you think about it for too long. Yet, it is our obligation to bring at least a little bit of that burden, that knowledge and that urgency to every meeting in these negotiations.  There’s no time to waste with accusations, recriminations or stalling tactics. It is time to move forward with great haste by demonstrating flexibility and seeking solutions.

The Durban negotiations have come and gone. Much of the discussion and outcome was focused on the Binding part of a FAB Agreement.  It is now time we turn our attention to the Fair part of a future climate treaty, by making it equitable, and on the Ambition part, by tackling the emissions gap with urgency. And we have to get work on a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol wrapped up so that we can move forward on a global, inclusive deal.

The Parties rightly noted “with grave concern” that we must keep average global temperature rise below 2 degrees. However, with no new climate agreement coming into force until 2020 this will not be possible unless firm action is taken right now to close that huge gap between what’s really needed and what governments are willing to do.

Parties must agree without any delay to tackle the issue of a short term work plan on ambition. UNEP and others have already done much of the technical work required – it’s time to use those resources and move quickly from discussion to execution.

In addition, Parties need to get to work at home, executing plans to meet the upper end range of their targets.

A process must also be set in motion to address the critical issues of equity.

Yes, all this sounds challenging, a huge workload for all of us, maybe even an overwhelming task. But let’s not be intimidated! Instead, let’s imagine what success will feel like!

Let’s be inspired by the brave leaders who are already taking more action than they are bound to by the UNFCCC, and by the benefits they see as a result of their actions!

Many of you know the Global Campaign for Climate Action from its Tck Tck Tck campaign.  It may sound clichéd, but when you can count the negotiating sessions in weeks and even days between now and 2015 – the year that  emissions must peak according to the science and the economics, time truly is running out.

As we pack for Bonn perhaps the only thing we all really need to remember to bring are pictures of our children or loved ones; at the end of the day – isn’t that why we are all here?”


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TckTckTck is the online hub for the Global Call for Climate Action. The GCCA represents an unprecedented alliance of more than 400 nonprofit organizations from around the world. Our shared mission is to mobilize civil society and galvanize public support to ensure a safe climate future for people and nature, to promote the low-carbon transition of our economies, and to accelerate the adaptation efforts in communities already affected by climate change.

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