Monday, June 01, 2009

2nd Round Pre-Copenhagen Climate Talks Begin In Bonn

Jun 1: Immediately following last week's Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate meeting in Paris from May 25-26 [See WIMS 5/28/09], delegates from 182 nations are gathering in Bonn, Germany, to initiate discussions on negotiating texts [See WIMS 5/21/09] which could form the basis of an ambitious United Nations-backed climate change deal, to slash greenhouse gas emissions, expected to be clinched in December. The two-week Bonn talks, the second round of UN climate change talks this year, are expected to draw over 4,000 participants, including representatives from Governments, the private sector, environmental organizations and research institutions.

The new pact, to be concluded in Copenhagen, Denmark, is intended to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said, “The political moment is right to reach an agreement. There is no doubt in my mind that the Copenhagen climate conference in December is going to lead to a result.” He said the current financial crisis has reinforced the need for a global response to global issues.

The Bonn meetings include the thirtieth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) under UNFCCC; the sixth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA); and the eighth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP).

Michael Zammit Cutajar, Chair of AWG-LCA noted that the negotiating text that is on the table did not prejudge or preclude any particular outcome. He said, "The text is a starting point and now is the time for parties to take position and enrich it." The negotiating text for consideration by the AWG-LCA, which comprises all 192 Parties to the UNFCCC, covers issues of a shared vision for long-term cooperative action, enhanced action on adaptation, mitigation and finance, technology and capacity-building.

AWG-KP will focus on a proposal for amendments to the Kyoto Protocol, including the annex relating to emission reduction commitments of 37 industrialized countries for the second phase of the protocol (post-2012). On this subject there is considerable disagreement between the parties, as well as major outside participants in the negotiations. For example the World Wildlife Fund and other groups are pressuring delegates to commit to an aggregate reduction goal for developed countries of at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. On the other hand, the European Union has called for an ambitious interim target of 20-30% less than 1990 levels; while President Obama has called for a 14 percent cut from 2005 levels by 2020; or a 0% reduction from 1990 levels. The recent, Committee-approved Waxman-Markey ACES bills calls for a 17% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020.

The argument came to a head at last week's Major Economies meeting where French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo complained it was "unimaginable" that the biggest power, the United States, with carbon emissions twice that of the EU, was doing less. He said that developed countries as bigger polluters, should deepen their cuts by 25 percent to 40 percent, especially the United States."

Other issues intended for discussion under the protocol, in Bonn, are how to improve emissions trading, coverage of emissions credits, the Kyoto Protocol's so-called "project-based mechanisms" and options for the treatment of land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). John Ashe, the newly-elected Chair of AWG-KP said, "It is important that we complete some of the more solvable issues here in Bonn so that we can then focus on the more difficult ones later on in the negotiations."

The UNFCCC gathering in Bonn, Germany constitutes the second in a series of five major UN negotiating sessions this year leading up to the UNFCCC meeting in Copenhagen (COP 15) in December 7 to 18. The next meeting, informal consultations comprising the LCA and KP groups, will take place August 10 to 14, also in Bonn; followed by a gathering in Bangkok from September 28 to October 9; and a further gathering from November 2 to 6 in Barcelona.

Access a release from UN (click here). Access a release from UNFCCC (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for links to complete details on the meetings and the negotiating text (click here). Access a release from WWF (click here). Access a background and summary report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD, click here). Access daily reporting from the Bonn meeting from IISD (click here).