The annual grand meeting of global climate change enforcers is about to happen in Bonn, Germany. This is the 23rd such meeting since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was done in 1992. This time things are different, with skeptics seated center stage. Who knows what might happen.
Here’s the deal. This meeting is supposed to come up with a draft set of rules for implementing the so-called Paris Accord, or Agreement, or Pact, or whatever it is. The US has said they will quit the Accord. But officially getting out takes several years and in the interim the US is still a big part of the negotiating body.
So what should the US delegation do? They could politely sit on their hands with their mouths shut, because they do not want to be there in the first place. Or they could take the long view and try to serve the US interest, which is their well paid job.
The key point here is that this Paris thingy is not a treaty. President Obama signed off on it all by himself. President Trumps says he is opting out. In no case has the Senate advised or consented, as the Constitution requires for treaties. So if this “pact” is some sort of Presidential agreement then the President’s team needs to step up to the plate and swing big.
Given that the next Democrat President may well jump back into the Paris frying pan, we need rules that will minimize future damage. This is what the Trump team needs to press for. These meetings have a consensus requirement for new rules so the US actually has a pretty strong position going in. Making it harder to join and easier to leave would be a good start. We are still in because there is a two year waiting period to even begin to exit.
The biggest issue on the Bonn table is the supposed $100 billion a year that the developing countries that run the UN say that us developed countries owe them, with payments beginning in 2020. Making clear that there is no such deal would be a good agenda item for the US delegation. That gravy train does not run anymore. Obama made that pledge so send him the bill.
But there are myriad other agenda items and rules on the table here. After all there will be over a thousand delegates, from almost 200 countries, all working hard for 12 long days, to produce a draft text to be finalized at next year’s meeting. Fiji has the Presidency.
Nor is there just one big meeting. Officially there are at least these six overall meetings, all intertwined:
Twenty-third Conference of the Parties (COP 23)
Thirteenth Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 13)
Second part of the first Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1.2)
Forty-seventh session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 47)
Forty-seventh session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 47)
Fourth part of the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1.4)
Most member countries are looking for a lot of new money, which is called “capacity building.” This means building the capacity to spend it, which is surprisingly easy.
When it comes to making rules, never forget that these are the people out for global control of energy. Or as they like to put it, curbing our “excess production and consumption.” Officially this is COP 23, where COP stands for Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention. Green cops are more like it.
The point is that as much as we might think that the Bonn COP is a laughable waste of time, there is still a lot for the US delegation to do. We need to keep a close eye on this fiasco.