The Bonn UN Climate Change Talks in Bonn, Germany is taking place between 31 May – 11 June 2010. Representatives from 182 governments are in attendance, picking up on unresolved issues left over from the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP 15) this past December and putting forward a path for the implementation of international climate change action.

Day 1

The first day of the Bonn Climate Change Talks were dedicated to the SBI and SBSTA opening plenaries. The flexibilities mechanisms were discussed under the SBSTA, with disagreements voiced regarding carbon capture and storage (CCS) and exhausted forests under the CDM, although standardized baselines under the CDM will be discussed.

Yvo de Boer spoke to the press, emphasizing that the two week negotiations will remain on track as long as participating nations maintain their focus on finding a common way forward towards a concrete and realistic goal for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 16) in Cancún later this year. In addition, he warned that a postponed outcome at the Copenhagen meeting last December does not mean that the impacts of climate change had also been postponed.

A reception hosted by the German government was held later in the evening on Monday to celebrate Yvo de Boer’s tenure as Executive Secretary and wish him farewell.

Day 2

Tuesday marked the opening of meetings for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the UNFCCC (AWG-LCA) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP). In addition, contact groups met to discuss technology transfer under the SBI/SBSTA, non-Annex I communications under the SBI, and other issues including documentation on LULUCF, flexibility mechanisms, and methodological issues.

Under the AWG-LCA, the Chair’s draft text was introduced and several parties noted that it was a good basis for beginning the discussions.  However, some delegates noted concern over the loss of a separate section on finance, perceived imbalance, and the potential for a significant growth in text length, as well as the possible impact of time spent in contact groups on the available negotiating time.

Yvo de Boer also addressed the conference, highlighting Copenhagen’s progress toward a technology mechanism, including a climate Technology Centre supported by regional units, raising the potential for partnership opportunities between governments and the private sector.

Day 3

Wednesday’s schedule consisted of contact group meetings and informal consultations. Issues under discussion included national communications, LDCs, the financial mechanism, capacity building, privileges and immunities, Annex I emission reductions, preparation of an outcome for presentation at COP16 (Item 3) under the AWG-LCA, and other issues under the AWG-KP.

Finance was a hot topic of the day, under discussion during the AWG-LCA contact group meeting. The AWG-LCA Chair provided a list of questions regarding the enhanced provision of financial resources which was then discussed during both the morning and afternoon group meetings. Many delegates noted a positive and constructive tone to the discussions, although complaints included discussions going in circles, parties maintaining their pre-Copenhagen positions, and the role of the UNFCCC being threatened by various parallel initiatives.

Day 4

On Thursday, delegates met together for contact groups as well as informal consultations. Issues under discussion included a review of the Adaptation Fund, intergovernmental meetings and capacity building, Annex I emission reductions, research dialogue, the Buenos Aires programme of work (decision 1/CP.10), and preparation of an outcome for presentation at COP16 (Item 3).

The fourth day of negotiations took on a positive tone with signs of progress. A proposal put forth by AOSIS and backed by several other developing countries called for joint discussions between the two AWGs of Annex I emission reductions (limited to Annex I countries). This proposal was well received although broader joint discussions on the topic of mitigation still face large opposition. In addition, the US and some other developing countries might not be on board with the AOSIS proposal. Also making headway, the LULUCF submission by developing countries received positive response along with the agreement to reconstitute the legal issues group under the AWG-KP.

Day 5

On the fifth day of negotiations, the AWG-KP plenary took place and contact groups and informal consultations occurred. Topics under consideration included Annex I national communications, Annex I emission reductions, arrangements for intergovernmental meetings, preparation of an outcome for presentation at COP16 (Item 3), technology transfer, and the focal point forum under the NWP convened.

Discussion over COP16 and side event arrangements took place and speculation arose over the still-undeclared location of the negotiating session taking place this autumn ahead of Cancún. The hope for joint discussions between the two AWGs was not as strong as the day prior. However, the energy may rise again when delegates meet for the final week of the Bonn climate talks.

Day 6

The second week of negotiations on Monday began with more contact groups and informal sessions. Under discussion: the Buenos Aires program of work (Decision 1/CP.10), preparation of an outcome for presentation at COP16 (Item 3), capacity building, the scientific, technical and socio-economic elements of mitigation, and Annex I emission reductions.

The topic of the joint meeting of the two AWGs arose again following the weekend hiatus. Of focus on Monday was the issue of common space for the AWGs, but no consensus has yet been reached. Despite support from AOSIS and various countries in Latin America, the US had not indicated that it would get behind such a meeting and some countries amongst the G-77/China remained in opposition.

LULUCF has also been receiving attention this week: transparency in LULUCF accounting is appearing to gain headway, a common position on reference levels was taken by the G-77/China, and reference constructions are showing signs of opening up.

Day 7

The topics of discussion during Tuesday’s contact groups and informal consultations included: the financial mechanism, capacity building, national communications, review of the Adaptation Fund, preparation of an outcome for presentation at COP16 (Item 3), and Annex I emission reductions.

With closing plenaries taking place on Wednesday, not much new was presented as delegates worked hard to wrap up issues under consideration over the past week. At noon, an informal briefing took place by the UN Secretary General’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF) in which members announced that  potential finance sources are currently being prepared in a report which is hope to be completed and presented before COP16 in November.

Day 8

Wednesday marked the end of the climate talks in Bonn. Contact groups and informal consultations took place during the day to discuss Annex I emission reductions and the preparation of an outcome for presentation at COP16 (Item 3). Later in the day, the SBI and SBSTA convened for their closing plenaries.

On Wednesday afternoon, a joint SBI/SBSTA session took place in order to say farewell to the outgoing UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer. Thanking the negotiators, IGOs, NGOs, industry, and his colleagues for their work over the past fourteen years, de Boer stated that “we do not have another fourteen years” to show that the UNFCCC can deliver progress. He noted that as negotiators work towards a legally binding agreement, there are divergences over the meaning of “legally binding” which serves as an advantage as it enables a broad definition. He further emphasized that agreements on several complex subjects cannot be reached with “15,000 people in the room” but through a “clear mandate to work in a smaller group and report back to the COP.” In his closing remarks, de Boer concluded that negotiators “will not only try, but also succeed.”

Read Yvo de Boer’s farewell statement here.

Further Reading

Bridging the road from Copenhagen to Cancún – Can the Bonn Climate talks lay any firm foundations? (Posted 31 May 2010 by Sabrina Chesterman)

France has prepared for positive Bonn outcome (Posted 6 June 2010 by Jennifer Helgeson)

Bonn Climate Talks: Paving the way to Cancún (Posted 8 June 2010 by Sabrina Chesterman and Nyla Sarwar)

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