Authors: Sabrina Chesterman & Nyla Sarwar.

As the climate talks gain pace in Bonn, progress is being made on a new text, designed to resurrect chances of a global agreement in Cancun in December. Many, including outgoing UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer, are still hesitant about Cancun being able to achieve a deal, which was originally supposed to have been reached at Copenhagen last December. One of the Mexican negotiators, Luis Alfonso de Albo, has used the coverage at Bonn to try and instill confidence in what may be achieved there, stating a climate deal is still ‘positive’.

The Bonn meetings have brought together key negotiating groups, including;

(I)              AWG-KP – to focus on further commitments by Annex I parties, based on text prepared by the Chair

(II)            AWG-LCA – to focus on preparation of an outcome to be presented to at COP 16, based on a new text by the Chair

(III)           Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) – which will consider issues including national communications and reporting, the financial mechanism and capacity building.

(IV)          Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) – which will consider methodological issues, technology transfer and the Nairobi Work Programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change.

The Bonn discussions have entered their second week with many fundamental questions still remaining regarding the legality of the proposed agreement, emission levels and temperature goals.  The big white elephant in Hotel Maritim where the discussions are being held, lingering from Copenhagen, centres on the scale of commitments by developed and developing countries. The new text aims to ameliorate the huge bridge that exist between these groups and integrate the Copenhagen Accord with the 2009 versions of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP texts.

In regards to finance, the new text states that that all finance will be new, additional, adequate and predictable. Whilst developed countries have committed to a goal of mobilising USD$100bn/pa by 2020, there is still uncertainty about which countries will contribute towards this and how much. Discussions regarding the generation of private funds have seen suggestions of a potential international cap-and-trade system with auctioned permits. There have also been references to the creation of a Finance Board within the UNFCCC to manage the operators of the agency’s financial mechanisms (i.e the GEF and the Climate Fund), including the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund (CGCF). Disillusionment regarding funding is also created due to the texts reference to the Copenhagen Adaptation Framework (CAF), implemented through international collaboration. The CAF aims to undertake 11 activities (e.g. planning, vulnerability assessments, strengthening institutional capacities, building resilience, disaster risk reduction etc.) all of which require extensive funding.  Worryingly the text remains sparse on new market mechanisms, likely to be critical to galvanise funding, especially from private and public sector partnerships.  In addition, as the EU Commissioner for Climate Change, Connie Hedegaard, made clear last week discussing the monetary agreements in lieu of the destabilised Euro does not come at an easy time, especially with money having to be drawn from the public purse.  Therefore funding remains a sensitive yet pivotal topic, especially if alliances are to be bridged between different negotiating groups.

Some aspects of the text being prepared at Bonn remain unchanged from the text prepared at Copenhagen. An example includes the issues surrounding REDD and REDD+, which was hailed as one of Copenhagen’s successes. In addition, the text regarding technology transfer remains unchanged from last year, and this section is considered to deliver a major outcome. The text suggests that establishment of a Climate Technology Centre and Network – the mechanism to support and organise the transfer of technology, encourage collaborative innovation, and skills development for developing countries. It is expected to be funded by the overarching funding mechanism and could begin as early as January 2011. Leading on from technology transfer, discussions so far at Bonn regarding capacity building have been largely inconclusive with additional brackets added to the text, and wide disagreement concerning its funding, delivery mechanism and reporting. With key uncertainties remaining, negotiators at Bonn have a lot of talking to do this week if success is to be achieved in any of these areas and a clear path to Cancun is to be laid.

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