UN climate negotiations in Bonn, 1-12 June

16 June 2009

Negotiations at Bonn saw a modest degree of progress but have, on all counts, left negotiators mountains to do if they are to deliver an ambitious global climate agreement this December that sets the world firmly on the path to a low carbon economy.

With six months remaining until COP15, the focus at Bonn was to try to reach agreement on draft negotiating texts for the Copenhagen meeting.

Discussion proceeded along the two tracks established by the 'Bali Road Map'. Through the Ad-hoc Working Group-Kyoto Protocol, those developed countries party to the Kyoto Protocol must agree new commitments beyond 2012. Meanwhile, the Ad-hoc Working Group-Long-term Cooperative Action comprises all countries working together to strengthen the Convention beyond 2012.

How did each fare?

The AWG-Long-term Cooperative Action agreed on a 200-page draft text - essentially, a list of various options - tackling the five key areas of negotiation: mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer, financing and the so-called "shared vision".

Over the next six months, this list must be winnowed to a size manageable for consideration at COP15. Countries will need to overcome considerable divisions that remain, largely along developed and developing country lines, especially on technology transfer and mitigation commitments. Financing represents another key obstacle, although the Mexico-proposed climate fund did see growing consensus.

The AWG-Kyoto Protocol was less successful. Failing to agree to a single draft text, countries have been forced instead to submit individual proposed amendments. This leaves negotiators a massive - although not yet insurmountable - task if they are to secure agreement in December.

What now?

The Climate Group's Policy Director Mark Kenber said: "With less than six months to go, it is essential that negotiators start to narrow down options and find consensus on some of the key issues. Leaving everything to last moment will only lead to suboptimal outcomes."

"A big part of the problem is that countries still see this as a negotiation about how to share out costs, with each government trying to give away as little as possible. If instead they saw the agreement for what it undoubtedly is - an opportunity to reignite the world economy, cut emissions, create jobs and drive innovation - then they could look at it as an opportunity for collaboration rather than mercantilist-like competition."

Continued negotiations on the two tracks, as well as discussions in other fora, will determine whether we will see a successful global agreement, be it from Copenhagen or a subsequent 2010 meeting.

Much depends on the progress of the US domestic legislative processes. Without a Congressional mandate, US negotiators will have little to offer at Copenhagen, likely undermining any chance of securing a global agreement there.

The US-led Major Economies Forum, the UN High-level Event on Climate Change in September, and the on-going bilateral discussions between the US and China will be crucial to developing the high-level political support necessary to resolving the current deadlocks.


Strong business support will also help pave the way toward a successful agreement. The recent Copenhagen Call, issued at the World Business Summit on Climate Change, saw global businesses together calling for an ambitious and robust agreement that will provide clear short and long-term signals for low-carbon investment and help them avoid lock-in to high-carbon infrastructure. The Climate Group will continue to work with its members and partners to strengthen this message.

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