Friday, August 14, 2009

Climate Chief Reports “Limited Progress” On UNFCCC Talks

Subscribers & Readers Note: WIMS will be on break for the next two weeks. We'll be back on Monday, August 31, 2009. Have a safe and enjoyable end of summer.

Aug 14: Following earlier more positive reports [See WIMS 8/13/09], at a sobering press briefing, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reported that only “limited progress” was made at the most recent, week-long climate change talks in Bonn, Germany. The international negotiations are expected to culminate in December in Copenhagen with a new pact on slashing greenhouse gas emissions that will replace the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.

In an end of meeting press briefing de Boer stressed that "a climate deal in Copenhagen this year is an unequivocal requirement to stop climate change from slipping out of control." However, de Boer went so far as to say that, "while selective progress had been made to consolidate the huge texts on the table, at this rate, we will not make it.” With only two more conferences, totaling 15 days, scheduled before the start of the critical COP 15 meeting, he said, “negotiations will need to considerably pick up speed for the world to achieve a successful result at Copenhagen.” The next informal meetings, prior to Copenhagen, are scheduled for Bangkok from September 28 to October 9, and Barcelona from November 2 to 6.

De Boer indicated that some accomplishments were made in the areas of adaptation, technology and capacity building, however, other issues such as how mid-term (2020) emission reduction pledges of industrialized countries could be translated into legally binding targets as a key component of the Copenhagen deal continue to be more difficult. He said, "Industrialized countries need to show a greater level of ambition in agreeing to meaningful mid-term emission reduction targets. The present level of ambition can be raised domestically and by making use of international cooperation. We also need a clear indication of the finance and technology industrialized countries are ready to provide to help developing countries green their economic growth and adapt to the impacts of climate change."

He continued, saying, "In the context of the G8 and Major Economies Forum, I see a group of countries considering actions that would allow them to profit from the boom in clean technology. The question is how all nations can profit from this development. Poorer countries risk being left by the wayside without access to technology and finance. International cooperation needs to provide them with the means to enable them to green their economies and to adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change. In order for that support to be financed, I believe that countries need to be more specific about what they want supported and how."

In addition to the two informal work meeting mentioned above, a major opportunity for all Heads of State and governments of the world to provide clear political guidance to negotiators ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen will be the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Change Summit for world leaders September 22 in New York. The New York meeting will assemble Heads of State and Government from all 192 Parties to the UNFCCC.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) has prepared a useful 77-page tabulated summary of the various country/Party submissions for consideration that have been made from August 2008 through August 2009. Section I contains submissions as they relate to measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV) support and actions; Section II contains submissions related to shared vision; Section III contains the legal aspects of proposals for an agreed outcome; Section IV contains submissions on finance; and Section V summarizes submissions on technology. WRI indicates that the table summaries represent WRI’s interpretation of a selection of Party submissions, and do not necessarily reflect the complete views of the Parties.

Access a closing release on the UNFCCC meeting (
click here). Access a webcast of the de Boer closing press briefing (click here). Access complete information on the current meetings and on-demand webcasts (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for more information (click here). Access details of five proposals by Parties for a protocol to the Convention (click here), including a draft 23-page implementing agreement from the U.S. (click here); and twelve proposals by Parties for amendment to the Kyoto Protocol (click here). Access the complete WRI summary of submissions (click here).