UN climate talks: progress in Bonn

04 September 2015

Jonathan Grant gives his reaction to the climate talks which took place in Bonn this week. Progress is being made on both process and substance as countries edge towards a deal in Paris.  The co-chairs, along with their new drafting committee, will be able to move things forward faster between now and the summit.

The climate talks wrapped up with the co-chairs agreeing to capture the progress made this week in a new draft document.  This should be shorter and look more like an actual draft agreement than the current compilation document.  And it should serve as the basis for negotiation and compromise at the next round in mid-October. 

While many commented on progress made in aspects of the negotiations, it was hard to observe as the talks inevitably moved behind closed doors.  And the facilitators struggled to capture this progress in the text itself.  The co-chairs will set up a drafting committee, likely to be made up of representatives of all the major blocs of countries, which should be able to move the draft agreement forward faster at the next meeting.  This is typical of the ebb and flow of the process and similar to what happened at both Kyoto and Copenhagen.  The trick will be to balance the interests of all countries and keep them on board right to the end. 

Business is increasingly alert to the threats of climate change and opportunities for low carbon growth.  But with less than 100 days to go before the UN climate summit in Paris (COP21), our latest survey of CEO views on climate show that only 46% see the deal as the main driver for action in their sector.  Public awareness and national policy was considered much more important driver, suggesting that many CEOs struggle to make the connection between the negotiations and their day-to-day business. 

By contrast three quarters say they are developing new products and services to respond to climate change and 54% say they are changing strategic investments in response to green growth opportunities.  The talks in Bonn this week might not be on the boardroom agenda for many CEOs, but the agreement in Paris is likely to catalyse action at the national level which will have far-reaching implications for business.