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Early optimism at Bonn climate talks

06 June 2014

by Joe Ware in Bonn


Prominent feature: the coal-fired Robert W. Scherer Power Plant operates early last Sunday in Juliette, Georgia, in the United States

Prominent feature: the coal-fired Robert W. Scherer Power Plant operates early last Sunday in Juliette, Georgia, in the United States

THE latest round of UN climate negotiations opened in Bonn, Germany, this week, with a renewed sense of optimism after significant moves by the world's biggest polluters: the United States and China.

Two days before the talks opened, President Obama announced plans that would mean emissions from coal-power plants would be cut by 30 per cent. The regulations overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency allow the President to bypass the House of Representatives.

A day later, reports from Beijing quoted a senior Chinese official, He Jainkun, who said that China would, for the first time, agree to a cap on absolute emissions; previously, it had committed only to linking them with its economic growth.

Such moves, it is hoped, will usher in a new, more co-operative atmosphere to the international talks at which nations have promised to strike a global climate-deal by next year's meeting in Paris.

The two-week Bonn "intersessional" is the first time that countries have met since they signed off on reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which showed that there was still time to tackle global warming, and that action now would be cheaper and more effective than delay.

To that end, representatives in Bonn have been asked to outline what action they will be taking between now and 2020, when any deal struck in 2015 will come into force.

These Bonn talks are also significant because countries agreed to send energy and environment ministers to speed up negotiations. Some developed nations, however, including many from nearby EU countries, have pulled out.

This has proved particularly embarrassing because of the positive steps taken by China and the US, which now may make the traditionally progressive EU countries look weak.

The senior climate-change adviser at Christian Aid, Mohamed Adow, said: "The countries which have failed to send their ministers should be embarrassed with their no-show. This ministerial had been agreed by all parties at last year's summit in Warsaw, and to see this broken undermines the good news coming out of Washington and Beijing."

One opportunity for countries to show their commitment is by pledging money to the recently opened Green Climate Fund, created to dispense $100 billion which was promised by developed nations in 2009 to fund climate projects around the world.

Joe Ware is Church and Campaigns Journalist for Christian Aid.

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