Countries meet again in Bonn for the UN Climate talks at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for 2018, a year which marks the beginning of a facilitative dialogue on the implementation of the Paris agreement, also known as the Talanoa Dialogue.
On May 2nd, the dialogue was initiated with hopes of stepping up climate action. It is set to run during 2018 with the primary aim of assessing progress towards realising the Paris agreements goals.
“Where are we?”, “Where do we want to go?”, and “How to get there?”. These are the questions the Talanoa Dialogue wishes to answer and as the title implies, questions will be addressed in a participatory manner. Parties, non-party stake holders, and civil society can provide input into the dialogue to assist in drafting inclusive future plans.
Talanoa was proposed during the Fijian presidency of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) and is a concept that is part of the Fijian culture.
“Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.”
In 2015, the Paris agreement was constructed during the COP21. It set a goal of keeping global warming at “well below 2 degrees” and pursuing further efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
After the agreement was signed, parties provided voluntary national plans of mitigating their CO2 emissions, called “Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)” in UN terminology.
Talanoa Dialogue will give the chance for parties to review their NDCs and test how they satisfy the overall goal of Paris agreement. But unfortunately, the numbers show that current NDCs are not enough.
“The current pledges don’t go anywhere near the Paris agreement goal” said Dharini Pharthasarathy, International Senior Communications Coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN). “Current NDCs were set 3 years ago. Since then, CO2 emissions have increased while pledges and commitments haven’t kept pace with that”
Due to this, many parties, especially the most affected ones like small island states, are pushing towards more ambitious NDCs with higher mitigation goals. But renewing NDCs is not as easy as it may sound.
A huge chunk of the NDCs put forward by parties is conditional and dependant on finance. In other words, “we’ll do it if you give us the money!”. However, none of the countries know yet if they actually will get as much as they need. Plus, finance donors may be reluctant to offer their money before the development of a strong transparency and accountability framework which is still on the negotiating table at Bonn climate talks.
That means even current NDCs may be unachievable with inevitable delays, let alone more ambitious ones. That is going to be tough for Talanoa!
Furthermore, reluctance to improve NDCs arises because it means tuning down economic activities for some parties that played a relatively small historical role in creating the problem of climate change.
Such mindset was clearly demonstrated in Saudi Arabia’s narrative. The country, which speaks on behalf of the Arab states at the UNFCCC, said: “We must be also discussing an additional fourth question, how did we get here?”
An implicit but clear message is meant by this question. It is placing the blame over global north countries for climate change, so to say “through your development and your industrial revolution, you polluted our air leading to climate change and no one ever tried to stop you. However, now you’re trying to get in the way of our development because of this problem which you created in the first place.”
The claim raises a rather delicate subject. Why would developing countries be held accountable for a problem that was largely created by developed countries? It is a question that has been there since the beginning of UNFCCC climate talks, and often forms a stumbling block during the international negotiations.
The Talanoa Dialogue was constructed with hopes to stop this polarity between developing and developed countries and get them together on the same side to tackle the problem more positively. The current negotiations in Bonn and other conferences that will be taking place around the world in the coming months will hopefully bring progress to raise climate ambition and end the current polarisation that reigns over the international climate debate.
Ahmad Hamour is a recently graduated environmental engineer. He has been writing in all mayor national media of his country and is particularly interested in water resource management and just transition.
To strengthen climate journalism around the globe, the FES Media Fellowship cooperates with Climate Tracker and supports two young journalists, Jelena Kozbasic from Serbia and Ahmad Hamour from Jordan, who participate in this program. They receive a climate media training, report from the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn and take part in FES events as well.