Tuesday, June 07, 2011

2-Week Climate Change Meeting Kicks Off In Bonn, Germany

Jun 6: Against the backdrop of new warnings about the rise in greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, the top United Nations climate change official, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), called on governments to make progress in the fight against global warming, building on commitments made last year. Figueres reminded delegates at the UNFCCC meeting underway in Bonn, Germany, of the commitments made at last year's climate talks in Cancún, Mexico, which concluded with a package of decisions to help countries advance towards a low-emissions future [See WIMS 12/13/10 & WIMS 12/15/10]. More than 3,000 participants from 183 countries are attending the Bonn talks in preparation for the UN climate conference to be held in Durban, South Africa, starting on November 28.

    Dubbed the "Cancún Agreements," the decisions included formalizing climate change mitigation pledges and ensuring increased accountability for them, as well as taking concrete action to protect the world's forests. Figueres told the opening session of the two-week conference, "Governments lit a beacon in Cancún towards a low-emission world which is resilient to climate change. They committed themselves to a maximum global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius, with further consideration of a 1.5-degree maximum. Now, more than ever, it is critical that all efforts are mobilized towards living up to this commitment."

    She indicated that last week, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that 2010 emissions from global energy generation returned to record highs, representing an unexpectedly sharp rebound from the effects of the financial crisis. In addition, the United States Government's Hawaii-based Mauna Loa laboratory -- a key scientific monitor for global climate change -- reported last week that carbon dioxide concentrations peaked yet again in May.

    According to a news release issued by the UNFCCC, negotiators at the Bonn meeting are working hard "to provide clarity on the architecture of the future international climate regime to reduce global emissions fast enough to avoid the worst climate change." They are also working on the design of the finance, technology and adaptation institutions agreed in Cancún that will allow developing countries to build their own sustainable futures.

    Figueres highlighted the global climate action which governments need to capitalize on, including new policies that promote low-carbon growth and an increase in low-carbon investment by the private sector, as well as greater use of clean technology. She said, "The clean and renewable energy revolution has already begun -- the challenge is to complete it in time."

    The Bonn meeting follows a 6-day meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, held in April [See WIMS 4/4/11 & WIMS 4/8/11] where an estimated 2,000 participants from 175 countries attended. The meetings are leading toward the culmination at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa at the end of this year. In Bonn the 34th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) are taking place from June 6-16. And, the second part of the fourteenth session of the AWG-LCA [Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention] and the second part of the sixteenth session of the AWG-KP [Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol] are taking place from June 7-17.

    In an opening press briefing by the U.S. State Department the U.S. said it would stand by its commitments made in Cancun and would lower GHG emissions in the range of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. The U.S. said the progress in the previous Bangkok meeting was slow and the negotiations must move forward. The U.S. said by the Durban meeting their should be guideline for monitoring and verification of GHG emissions.

    Access a release from the UN (click here). Access a video of the Bonn opening press briefing (click here). Access a press release from UNFCCC (click here). Access links to all conference documents at for the UNFCCC June meetings (click here). Access the U.S. opening press briefing video (click here). Access the on-demand webcasts of press briefings and various meetings from Bonn (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for background information (click here). [*Climate]