CCS back on the radar as climate change talks resume for COP 20

Mark Bonner

CCS back on the radar as climate change talks resume for COP 20

Organisation: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The latest round of United Nations climate talks kicked off on March 10 in Bonn with carbon capture and storage (CCS) positioned to stand shoulder to shoulder with renewables and energy efficiency within the clean energy technology agenda. As Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), began the first formal meeting in 2014, she observed that this not only marked the 20th anniversary of the Convention, but she described the year as showing much promise in terms of action and ambition by parties to arrive at a ‘meaningful’ 2015 Agreement in Paris. (France will play host to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in 2015, where the new climate regime is expected to be adopted).

A meaningful challenge

The term ‘meaningful’ has been carefully chosen by the Parties to describe how the 2015 Agreement is to be further elaborated by negotiators prior to COP 20, scheduled for Lima this December. The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) has been negotiating for some 3 years now as to what the post-2020 national contributions might be in the global effort to address climate change, as well as how pre-2020 mitigation ambitions might be lifted by all Parties. There still remains little consensus amongst negotiators as to what ‘meaningful’ actually means with ongoing deliberations on how to stabilise emissions at levels that avoid the dangerous impacts of human-induced climate change on a ‘without prejudice’ basis, while still satisfying national interests.

The challenge remains to intensify the progress currently being made on the 2015 Agreement – especially in regards to elaborating the core elements of mitigation, adaptation, technology, finance, capacity building, and transparency of action and support. These will make up the content of the draft legal text to be considered at COP 20. Other areas to be explored at this meeting include the domestic preparation of national contributions (an important workshop will held on 11 March to share Party experience on pursuing related opportunities and challenges) and a series of technical workshops throughout 2014 that further explore the opportunities associated with ‘environmentally sound’ mitigation technologies identified as having high emissions reduction and/or avoidance potentials.

CCS front and centre

It is this last initiative that will see CCS front and centre of the mitigation, technology and finance related negotiations via a workshop that is to be scheduled for late 2014 (likely to be located in Bonn sometime in October) that aims to, in the co-Chair’s own words, 'turn its theoretical potential into a reality'. This meeting sees the start of the series of technical workshops, with an exploration of the scalability of renewable energy and the enhancement of energy efficiency opportunities. Other technological issues to be explored in 2014 include REDD+ and urbanisation scheduled for the ADP/Subsidiary Body meetings in June.

How you can contribute

If you would like to contribute ideas into the preparation of the CCS workshop in October, please contact either Mark Bonner ( or John Scowcroft ( The Institute can, as an accredited observer to the UNFCCC (noting that it is also waiting notification of its accreditation to the Green Climate Fund and membership to the Climate Technology Network) formally express views directly to the ADP co-Chairs and the UNFCCC Secretariat. As an example of how renewable energy is being treated in the ADP2.4 session, please visit the following ADP2.4 webpage.

The co-Chair also observed in his opening statement that by COP 20, all Parties should be in a position to know: (a) what they can do, and (b) what they need to do within the pre-2020 context of closing the mitigation gap between what the science is specifying as the likely scale of mitigation needed, and what the aggregate Party contributions indicate will be delivered.

A further update on the progress of these talks will be provided for the session on Tuesday, 11 March. If you’re attending the Bonn climate meeting and would like to make contact with the Institute to discuss any matter, please contact John Scowcroft and he would be very pleased to meet with you.

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