Policy experts say the UN climate talks need reform, but change would be difficult in the current political landscape

(Inside Climate News, 4 Feb 2024) Limiting the size of the annual conference, eliminating conflicts of interest and adopting enforceable agreements with a voting system could help speed up global climate action, research shows.

As COP28 negotiations in Dubai last December stalled over language describing the phaseout of fossil fuels for the summit’s final agreement, several American climate activists and scientists tried to revive a long-simmering call to adopt voting rules at the climate talks, where diplomats currently reach decisions by consensus. 

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has never adopted voting rules for the annual talks, and the default to consensus-based outcomes has often enabled small groups, or even individual nations, to block agreements, including those that spell out the need to stop burning fossil fuels. 

Voting rules are needed to reduce the influence of petrostates over the outcomes of the negotiations, Al Gore said in a Dec. 5 interview with Bloomberg, explaining that proponents of a voting proposal would try to rally support in time to focus on it at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s mid-year meeting, scheduled for June 3-13 in Bonn, Germany. Expert observers of the talks say there is an agenda item on COP rules each year, but that there haven’t been any serious efforts in recent years to adopt changes.

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Inside Climate News, 4 Feb 2024: Policy experts say the UN climate talks need reform, but change would be difficult in the current political landscape