Bonn Climate Talks Conclude
Amid Projections of Record High
Atmospheric CO2 Levels
The second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP2)—the latest intersessional of the international climate change negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—concluded last week in Bonn, Germany. The intersessional, held from April 29 to May 3, 2013, was divided into two workstreams:
- Workstream 1, which focuses on the scope, legal architecture and design, process and timeline for a new global climate agreement, set to be agreed upon at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 in Paris in 2015, and go into force in 2020; and
- Workstream 2, which focuses on pre-2020 emissions reductions pathways.
The work of the ADP2 was under an increased sense of urgency, with the recent release of the latest climate data from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which projected atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to soon surpass the 400 parts per million mark for the first time in recorded history. Furthermore, on May 2, 2013, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2012, which indicated that 2012 was the ninth warmest year on record, since record keeping began in 1850.
Initial worries that the ADP2 would prove an extended “agenda fight” did not manifest, with the overall tenor of the negotiations being characterized as “positive” and “constructive.” Both the session format, consisting primarily of workshops and roundtables, as well as the single focus on one negotiating track within the Framework Convention, appeared to help foster improved dialogue amongst Parties.
Still, despite the improved tone of the negotiations, many of the ‘tough’ decisions were postponed until the next intersessional, scheduled to take place in Bonn from June 3-14. The June intersessional will include the third meeting of the ADP negotiating track, along with additional negotiation track meetings, including the Subsidiary Body for Implemention (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Both the April and June intersessionals will help to lay the groundwork for COP 19, to take place in Warsaw, Poland from November 11-22, 2013.
Some of the more contentious and unresolved areas of the international climate talks include technology transfer, adaptation, and climate finance—including the means and pathways to scale up to the $100 billion per year by 2020 pledged by developed nations in 2010. Further, considerable differences prevail around the preferred architecture of a new 2015 agreement, including whether it would be a top-down, “binding” legal architecture, or a bottom-up “pledge and review” process with voluntary emissions reductions targets under periodic review. The United States—along with Japan, Canada, and Russia—supports a “pledge and review” process in which nations would have the flexibility to choose their own emissions reductions targets, which would later undergo review. Meanwhile, many others reject this approach, for fear that voluntary targets will not achieve the level of mitigation ambition the science suggests is necessary to meet the critical threshold of maintaining below a two degree Celsius global average temperature rise.
On the heels of the ADP2, international climate policy discussions continued outside of the formal UNFCCC negotiations, in the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, a summit of 35 environment ministers, convened by the German and Polish ministers of the environment. The Petersberg Climate Dialogue, held from May 5-7 in Berlin, Germany, also holds important implications in terms of political will, and context setting for future negotiations at COP 19 in Warsaw in November. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during her keynote address for the Dialogue, forewarned the global community that doing nothing is “not an option.”
The links below provide a round up of USCAN member reactions and press coverage of the Bonn climate talks:
US Urges Light-touch Regulation of Emissions as Climate Heats Up, The Irish Times Article, 5.4.13
Successful Week of Talks in Bonn Looks Towards Finalising ‘Dynamic’ Climate Deal in 2015, The Irish Times Article, 5.4.2013
Nations Seek Flexible Climate Approach, but no Breakthrough in Bonn, Reuters article, 5.3.13
Climate Negotiators Inch Closer to Global Pact, Deutsche Welle Article, 5.3.13
World Leaders Lack Political Will to Make Progress at Climate Negotiations in Bonn, Union of Concerned Scientists Press Release, 5.3.13
New Focus on Injecting Fairness into Climate Talks a Cause For Hope, Climate Action Network Press Release, 5.3.13
3 Encouraging Signs Of Progress from The Bonn Climate Talks, WRI Insights Blog, 5.3.13
Countries Focus on ‘Concrete Solutions’ to Build New UN-backed Global Climate Accord, UN News Centre, 5.3.13
Climate Vulnerable States Call for Greater Ambition at UN Talks, Responding to Climate Change (RTCC) Article, 5.3.13
Daily Tck: Signs of “Convergence” at Bonn Climate Talks?, Daily Kos Blog, 5.3.13
Countries Can Agree to More Global Action on Climate Change by 2015: Five Reasons (at least), Natural Resources Defense Council Blog, 5.2.13
Low-key U.S. Plan for Each Nation to Set Climate Goals Wins Ground, Reuters Article, 5.2.13
UN Envoys Consider 2050 Carbon Target in Climate Deal Talk, Bloomberg Article, 5.2.13
Five Reasons We Need a New Global Agreement on Climate Change by 2015, Natural Resources Defense Council Blog, 4.28.13
2 Big Issues to Watch at this Week’s Bonn Climate Talks, WRI Insights Blog, 4.28.13
Summaries and Newsletter Collections:
Find Climate Action Network-International’s press releases, blog posts, ECO newsletters, and other publications related to the recently concluded Bonn Intersessional here:
Third World Network (TWN) Bonn News Updates, Third World Network, 5.2.13
IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin ADP2 Final, 5.6.13
Written by Jennifer Perron, International Policy Coordinator/Adaptation Coordinator