As the 32nd session of the UNFCCC Convention subsidiary body gets underway at the Hotel Maritim in Bonn, many will be hoping the talks can deliver some measure of mediation between parties and begin carving a real path towards Cancun. Outgoing Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Yvo de Boer, had urged all Parties to ‘overcome differences and work for greater clarity on what can be agreed to by all Parties for Cancun in December.’  The UN’s top climate change official, who will be replaced by Christiana Figueres from Costa Rica after the Bonn meeting, has promoted negotiators to gain finality on the architecture that will launch inclusive and effective global climate action. In an attempt to prevent deadlock in the talks, as witnessed at Copenhagen, do Boer has focused specifically on the need to conclude on “mitigation targets and action, a package on adaptation, a new technology mechanism, financial arrangements, ways to deal with deforestation and a capacity building framework”.

Making allies rather than enemies will be crucial if the talks at Bonn are to proceed. A strong coalition is the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), supported by more than 100 Parties, has already asserted it will not shift from its position centred on mitigating global temperatures to a 1.5 degree rise above pre-industrial levels to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations below 350ppm. Grenada, on behalf of AOSIS, has already affirmed that this goal must be reflected in the draft negotiating text. These small island states, some of the most vulnerable to continued climatic change and associated implications such as sea level rise, have been resolute in their demands that pledges of 2°C will not be sufficient.

It is expected the US will be an important voice with their negotiating team having already flagged to the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Co-operative Action (AWG-LCA), one of the two subsidiary bodies of the UNFCCC, that it does not recognise the current text proposed as a basis for negotiations. Although the Copenhagen Accord was not formally adopted by the Conference of the Parties, 120 of the 194 UNFCCC parties have signed the Accord, consequently countries like the US are pushing for the Accord to progress under the Convention. The official position of the Secretariat coming into the Bonn meeting was the fact the Accord can be used as part of the negotiation process. This has come under fire from India and China, countries pivotal to the negotiations, citing that the talks should be based on the existing UN tracks namely the Kyoto Protocol and Long Term Cooperative Action (LCA). The task at Bonn is to try and find a medium between these and come up with a new draft that adequately integrates the Accord as well as the existing tracks.

Financing mechanism will also be high on the agenda, with the 26 developed countries that drew up the Copenhagen Accord pushing for the establishment of a Green Climate Change Fund. The Fund, proposed as one financial entity of the Convention supports projects and policies relating to mitigation for example REDD plus as well as adaptation projects through support, capacity building and technology transfer. A priority for the Bonn talks will be to shape how the US$30 billion pledged by industrialised countries at Copenhagen can be utilised in the near term (up until 2010) to kick-start climate action in developing countries. Issues of contention include the governance and leadership of the Fund, currently suggested to be under a board nominated by the Conference of the Parties, however many developing countries are hesitant with this notion. It is essential this promise of funding is met, and a clear road ahead until 2012 is made to regain some trust between the developed and developing nation negotiation blocks. It is essential a transparent and agreed upon methodology is employed to prioritise the most vulnerable countries and appropriately apportion financing through the Fund in this manner.

The UN climate change body has come up with a new draft which has elements of the Copenhagen Accord as alternative options for the nations to agree.  The Chair of the LCA group will be hoping to bridge these contrasting views, especially mediating talks between the small island states, China and India and the developed nation block. An indicative roadmap has already been proposed to guide the road to Cancun in December, however major speed bumps include issues related to mitigation, finance, measurement, reporting and verification. The greatest block is the global temperature targets and according emission limits, and negotiators at Bonn will have to grapple between either committing to deep cuts in the near term or setting up a longer term more ambitious global reduction plan.

Top priority on the agenda is the preparation of an outcome from the Bonn talks which can be to be presented to the Conference of the Parties in Cancun for adoption to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention. In addition developing countries will be focusing on the need for cooperative action now, up to and beyond 2012, especially with regards to clarity on the future of the Kyoto Protocol. The crux is again likely to occur with the US wanting a legally binding agreement for all relevant parties, especially China, the greatest emitter of CO2 with the developing countries likely to reiterate their stance on historical responsibility.

The two week Bonn session represents a significant portion of the remaining negotiating time before Cancun and therefore priority needs to be on finalising the architecture around the fast-track funding and ensuring funds can be efficiently and equitably distributed as laid on in the Accord. In addition do Boer needs to try and align political leadership and iron out political instabilities to try and ensure Figueres can captain and floating ship to Cancun. Almost all the Parties agree there is an urgent need to conclude a legally binding agreement, therefore the Bonn talks need to ensure a comprehensive implementation package is making its way to the table.

Climatico analysts will be following the progression of the meeting through daily updates as well as a concluding analysis.

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