The UN Climate Change Conference kicks off this week in Bonn, Germany as governments continue framework discussions in preparation for the Seventeenth Conference of Parties (COP17) to be held in Durban, South Africa, at the end of the year. Over three thousand participants representing 183 countries are attending the conference in Bonn from June 6-17, including government delegates, business and industry representatives, environmental organizations, and research bodies.
Speaking on the first day of the conference, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres reminded governments that they hold an unavoidable responsibility to make clear progress towards the 2011 climate objectives agreed to at COP16 in Cancun.
“Governments lit a beacon in Cancun 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.”
Ms. Figueres expects that the meeting in Bonn should provide clarity on the architecture of the future international climate change regime to reduce global emissions. In addition, negotiators will focus on the design of the finance, technology and adaptation institutions agreed to in Cancun which will allow developing countries to successfully adapt to climate change while still building their own sustainable futures.
The conference comes amid a backdrop of new warnings from the International Energy Agency (IEA) of a sharp rise in the volume and concentration of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. The IEA announced last week that 2010 emissions from global energy generation have returned to record highs, marking an unexpectedly sharp rebound from the reduced emission levels caused by the financial crisis. Reports now show that carbon dioxide concentrations have once again peaked at just under 395 parts per million (ppm).
The two week conference includes the thirty-fourth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 34) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 34), the sixteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 16), and the fourteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 14).
New items under discussion include: SBI’s consideration of proposed items on work programmes relating to reporting by Annex I and non-Annex I countries, adaptation, and response measures, as well as SBSTA’s consideration of the work programme on agriculture, the impacts of climate change on water and water resource management, and the initiation of a new work programme on issues regarding reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+) identified within the Cancun Agreements.