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Bonn in Review

Over the past two weeks, delegates from 183 countries convened in Bonn, Germany to create negotiating texts under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for consideration in Copenhagen this December. In focus at Bonn was the enhancement of international climate change cooperation, particularly as it relates to the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. In all, over 4,600 participants were in attendance, consisting of government delegates, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, representatives of the private sector, academia, and the media.

The Bonn Climate Change Talks, which began on June 1st and concluded on June 12th, consisted of four meetings as part of the UNFCCC: the sixth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 6), the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Protocol met for its eighth session (AWG-KP 8), and both the Convention’s Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) held their 30th sessions.

A brief summary of the meeting results are as follows:

AWG-LCA 6

The meeting by the AWG-LCA focused on the negotiating text development and was largely a success, resulting in a 200-page draft negotiating text. The draft managed to hold to elements addressed under the Bali Action Plan such as a shared vision for long-term cooperative action, adaptation, mitigation, finance as well as technology and capacity-building.

AWG-KP 8

The AWG-KP considered the various proposals put forth by the Annex I parties under the Kyoto Protocol. Unfortunately, these discussions resulted in less success than that of the AWG-LCA 6. Over the course of the plenary sessions, the parties were unable to reach an agreement on emission reduction targets post-2012 and developing countries expressed disappointment at the proposals made by Annex I countries. According to John Ashe, the Chair of AWG-KP, while options for the treatment of land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) to reduce emissions saw great progress, both aggregate emission reduction targets and individual targets have yet to be decided. In addition, the negotiating group remained far from the target range required by science to avoid the severe climate change impacts.

SBI

In focus for the SBI was the development and transfer of technologies. Three reports were produced by the Expert Group on Technology Transfer (including future financing options, long-term strategies, and indicators of performance). Furthermore, the SBI produced an agreement to reconstitute the Consultative Group of Experts on Non-Annex I National Communications. Unfortunately, the second comprehensive review of the capacity-building framework under the Protocol and the Convention was met with a lack of agreement.

SBSTA

The SBSTA considered such issues as the methodology, technology transfer, research and systemic observation, and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (referred to as REDD). The methodologies that make it possible to both monitor and report emissions from deforestation (accounting for 20% of greenhouse gas pollution) made solid progress. However, the SBSTA failed to come to an agreement on REDD for the COP draft.

Despite lack of agreement in various areas of discussion over the past two weeks, the meetings in Bonn resulted in the adoption of 31 conclusions and seven draft decisions. According to Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, “A big achievement of this meeting is that governments have made it clearer what they want to see in the Copenhagen agreed outcome…In my view, an ambitious and effective agreed outcome in Copenhagen is in sight – an outcome that provides a strong and definitive answer to the alarm raised by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

The Bonn session marked the second in a series of five major UNFCCC meetings occurring this year in preparation for the UN Climate Change Conference, taking place from 7th-18th of December in Copenhagen. The next step in the process toward Copenhagen is for parties to refine the specifics of the text for discussion at the next Bonn meeting in August, followed by another session in Bangkok in late September and a gathering in Barcelona in early November.

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  1. Ruth Brandt

    This lack of progress – especially with REDD, where technology has progressed so much in the past few years – is very frustrating!

    How will this failure to reach agreements affect the legality of the proceedings in Copenhagen? If I’m not mistaken there was something about having to agree on draft proposals, or something like that, 6 months before COP 15.

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