Monday, November 02, 2009

Barcelona Climate Talks Begin; Last Stop Until Copenhagen

Nov 2: The resumed ninth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the resumed seventh session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) began today (November 2) and will continue through November 6, in Barcelona, Spain. This is the last round of negotiations before COP 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 7-18, 2009. More than 4,000 participants, including delegates from 181 countries, have registered for the UN Climate Change Talks in Barcelona.

The meeting in Barcelona follows on the UN Climate Change Talks in Bangkok (September 28 to October 9), which UNFCCC says, "saw increasing convergence, streamlining of negotiating text and narrowing down of options for a comprehensive, fair and effective international climate change deal." However, as others reported there was extensive tension and turmoil between the parties at the Bangkok meetings [
See WIMS 10/09/09]. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said, “The Barcelona talks need to make clear progress and put in place a solid foundation for success at Copenhagen. We have only five days to achieve this, only five days to further narrow down options and come up with working texts. But I am convinced that it can be done.

Alluding to a meeting of around 35 Environment Ministers ahead of the Barcelona talks, Danish Minister for Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard said, “Ministers promised to instruct negotiators to be flexible and constructive towards a Copenhagen outcome. Striking a deal is not easy now. But it will not be easer next year or the year after.”

Specifically, progress on adaptation, technology cooperation, action to reduce emissions from deforestation in developing countries and enhanced capacity building is expected in Barcelona. De Boer said, “Workable middle ground options have emerged on these items that can be taken forward and concretized. The good work needs to be continued, especially in view of preparing the ground for prompt implementation now and up to 2012.”

UNFCCC indicated in a release that a beacon to guide discussions is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s finding that an aggregate emission reduction by industrialized countries of between minus 25% and 40% over 1990 levels would be required by 2020, and that global emissions would need to be reduced by at least 50% by 2050, in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change. De Boer said, “The targets of industrialized countries that are presently on the table are clearly not ambitious enough. We therefore need more ambitious targets on an individual basis and urgent progress on the negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol.” The U.S. for example is proposing only 17% reduction from 2005 under the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454); and 20% reduction from 2005 under the Senate proposed Kerry-Boxer (S. 1733). Despite the international desire for a greater commitment from the U.S., it is highly unlikely that U.S. can commit to additional reductions considering the political resistance to the already proposed reductions.

In opening remarks in Barcelona, U.S. negotiators said they are committed to an "ambitious" global climate change agreement in Copenhagen. The U.S. said there must be "robust" reductions from developed countries; commitments to reduce emissions from "major developing countries" (e.g. China and India); and "low carbon growth plans" but no commitments from "least developed" and "other developing countries." They said they are putting forth new proposals for transparency in monitoring commitments, a global fund for climate and a new technology hub to assist developing countries in adopting new technologies.

Access a release from UNFCCC (
click here). Access links to webcasts of all November 2 press briefings (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for links to information and documents for the meetings (click here).