06/24/15 :

Report from Bonn: The Road to Paris

Country delegates and observers gathered in Bonn, Germany June 1-11 to debate and discuss next steps in global climate policy. The goal? To put together a post 2020 roadmap to succeed the Kyoto protocol. The mandate for a post 2020 plan within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was put in place in the 2011 Durban, South Africa negotiations, and the negotiating body has until the end of 2015 to arrive at an official agreement.

The final negotiating session will be held at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) in Paris, France in early December this year. By then, the delegates hope to have made additional progress towards a unified document, but a consensus agreement will face many hurdles before it is completed. Though a flurry of closed-door negotiations are underway, progress on an agreement has been and will continue to be slow. Many observers expect the negotiations to drag out through the end of COP 21, but believe that an agreement is likely to be ultimately reached.

Energy Productivity at the Bonn Negotiations

Energy efficiency featured prominently at the Bonn talks, with the second-ever energy efficiency-focused Technical Expert Meeting (TEM) held June 3-6. These meetings brought experts to the table to present on energy efficiency in urban environments. Cities are a huge priority for policymakers ahead of COP21, and the TEMs offered observers and delegates alike the opportunity to discuss key policy options for improving building efficiency, transportation and lighting systems. Combining the energy efficiency-focused TEM with a parallel TEM about renewable energy, ideas and tools were brought to the attention of delegates considering policy options for meeting their climate commitments.

Discussions about energy efficiency continued on the sidelines, with an energy efficiency side event hosted by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) called Accelerating the Implementation of Energy Efficiency Initiatives. Panelists included Harry Verhaar, head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Philips Lighting, and Karen Hughes, International Policy program manager at the Alliance to Save Energy. Hughes presented the details of the Alliance to Save Energy’s new initiative, the Global Alliance for Energy Productivity, urging delegates and observers alike to endorse the goal of improving global energy productivity.

Looking Ahead

Countries around the world are in the midst of putting together their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which include commitments to carbon reductions and the goal of mitigating climate change under the UNFCCC framework. As global decision makers consider what they can authentically promise, the importance of efficient energy use and improved energy productivity could not be more meaningful. For leaders in both the public and private spheres, the easiest, most cost-effective way to reduce emissions is to improve energy efficiency. Smart investments in energy productivity and dynamic public and private leadership can help pave the way towards a stronger and more stable energy future.