Bonn talks: carbon price progress, climate finance failure

Business leaders have welcomed the recognition of carbon pricing within the latest draft text of the climate agreement, but concerns remain over the lack of progress on climate finance from richer nations.

The final round of preliminary climate negotiations came to a close in Bonn on Friday evening (23 October), ahead of the crucial Paris Summit in December.

A 20-page negotiating document was expanded to 63 pages over the course of the five days. Green groups have commended the progress, considering that at same point before the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, 180 pages of negotiating text had been drawn up.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said that the draft text includes additional options that reflect the concerns of all countries. “We now have a Party-owned text that is balanced and complete,” Figueres said. “The challenge for governments is to bring it down to a much more concise and coherent form for adoption in Paris.”

Carbon price

Among the key additions to the text made in Bonn was the acknowledgement that ‘putting a price on carbon is an important approach for cost-effectiveness of the cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions’.

This acknowledgement has been welcomed by virtually all actors within the green economy – including international heads of state, development banks, global businesses, industry bodies and oil firms – who universally agree that an international price on carbon would be the most efficient way of driving investment into low-carbon technologies.

Nigel Topping, chief executive of green business coalition We Mean Business, said: “We are delighted to see carbon pricing becoming a global norm. The widespread adoption of carbon pricing will reduce competitiveness concerns and rising carbon prices will drive further investment in a clean energy future. The decarbonisation of the economy is inevitable , irreversable and irresistible.”

Steve Howard, group chief sustainability officer at IKEA – which had been calling for the inclusion of carbon pricing within the UNFCCC negotiating text – added: “Ambitious climate policy, including carbon pricing, will enable business to innovate and invest in a low-carbon, prosperous future.”

Climate finance

Despite this insertion of carbon pricing within the negotiating text, principal blockages remain around the scale of ambition and on the key issue of climate finance. Developing nations claim financial support from wealthier nations has become “the elephant in the room”, with all sides reporting scant progress on the issue in Bonn.

Christian Aid’s senior climate advisor Mohamed Adow said: “The reason we have got this far in negotiating a global climate agreement, including poor countries as well as big emitters, is because rich countries promised to deliver a balanced outcome that incorporated climate finance. That is what helped win the cooperation of the developing world.

“But now that we’re on the brink of sealing the deal, rich countries are trying to wriggle out of their commitments. Rich countries cannot erase history: neither their past emissions nor their promises on finance, which have been instrumental in getting us to this point.”

A pre-Paris ministerial meeting will take place in the French capital from 8-10 November. The G20 Heads of State will then meet in Turkey a few days later, followed by the Heads of State meeting of the Commonwealth (CHOGM) in Malta, just before the Paris summit opens.

Luke Nicholls

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