UNFCCC: Bonn climate talks make progress on fleshing out specifics of global climate change regime

    Two weeks of Bonn UN Climate Change Talks have made important progress towards concluding what was left incomplete at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. The outcome is set to be presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancún (COP 16) at the end of this year.

    A big step forward is now possible at Cancún, in the form of a full package of operational measures that will allow countries to take faster, stronger action across all areas of climate change,said Yvo de Boer.

    Progress was made at the meeting in fleshing out the specifics of how a climate regime can work in practice. The Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) undertook detailed discussions on reducing greenhouse gases, adapting to the inevitable effects of climate change, the transfer of clean technology, reducing emissions from deforestation and capacity building, along with finance and institutional arrangements.

    The chair of the negotiating group tasked to develop a long-term response to climate change tabled a text that seeks to address the wider interests of all Parties, and was requested by Parties to compile a revised verion by the next negotiating session in August.

    A second working group on future climate action, focussing on emissions reduction commitments for the 37 industrialised countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, also met in Bonn. In this group, countries started work on turning the emission reduction pledges that developed countries made since Copenhagen into targets that can be formally compared in a UN negotiating context.

    Yvo de Boer called on the negotiators to begin an in-depth consideration of the legal nature of any new agreement or set of agreements. He also said that it was essential to take a cold look at the 76 emission reduction and emission limitation pledges that have been made by developed and developing countries since the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. All industrialised countries have pledged emission reduction targets, and 39 developing countries have pledged voluntary actions to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

    The fact remains industrial country pledges fall well short of the -25-40% range the IPCC has said gives a 50% chance to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees, he said. Take all current pledges and plans from all countries and we will still wont stop emissions growing in the next 10 years, he added.

    The pledges made by rich countries so far add up to about 12-19% of emissions over 1990 levels by 2020. Industrialized countries as a group have indicated their willingness to take on a -80% goal for 2050.
    I believe the future will deliver this goal, said Yvo de Boer. But more stringent actions cannot be much longer postponed. Otherwise, the 2 degree world will be in danger, and the door to a 1.5 world will have slammed shut, he said.

    The Bonn gathering was attended by more than 5,500 participants, including government delegates from 185 governments, along with representatives from business and industry, environmental organisations and research institutions.

    The next UNFCCC negotiating session is scheduled to take place 2-6 August in Bonn, followed by a second one-week intersessional meeting (precise date and location yet to be agreed) before the UN Climate Change Conference 29 November to 10 December in Cancún.

    Press release