Climate talks begin in Bonn

30 April 2013

LONDON: The latest round of UN climate talks began in Bonn, Germany, yesterday with a focus on laying the foundations for agreeing a new global climate treaty in 2015.  

Following agreement at 2012's UN climate conference in Doha (COP18) to extend the Kyoto Protocol, countries now have just a single negotiating process to deal with. Originally established in Durban in 2011, and officially known as the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform, or ‘ADP’ for short, this process aims to deliver a truly global and ambitious effort to combat climate change.

New treaty

Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the new treaty – which is meant to come into force in 2020 – will cover all countries, both developed and developing. Critically, this includes the US and China, neither of which are currently covered by any binding climate agreement. On top of this, a second stream of work will consider ways to raise global ambition before 2020. This short term action is essential and could involve joint and voluntary initiatives on things such as energy efficiency or short-lived pollutants like ‘black carbon’.

Speaking at the opening of the discussions, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) highlighted rising CO2 levels, which were measured to be at 399.72 parts per million last week. She said: “We are just about to cross the 400 parts per million threshold, hence this conference meets in a heightened sense of urgency. We must meet the deadlines set by the UNFCCC’s Conference of the Parties. The ADP working group has already used one third of the time allocated, so we must use the remaining time wisely.”

Urgent action

This sense of determination to speed up climate action is shared by many of the meeting’s participants. ADP Co-Chairs Jayant Moreshver Mauskar and Harald Dovland said in a joint opening statement: “We are confident that this session will allow the ADP to identify the main contours of the elements of the agreement, what the agreement needs to achieve as a part of the overall result of the UN Climate Change Conference in 2015; and also to identify very practical ways to increase ambition inspired by the efforts government are all making at the national level. And we are confident it will allow us to identify how efforts from all stakeholders and the international community can help us all do more in order to close the ambition gap.”

Christiana Figueres added: “We need to be creative, constructive and willing to come forward with actions, initiatives and new proposals for how national governments, cities, private sector and civil society and international initiatives can do more, faster. And we need to be able to showcase our successes and further opportunities in bridging the emissions gap at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw at the end of this year.”

Damian Ryan, Senior Policy Manager, The Climate Group, said: “The unfortunate reality is that the talks underway in Bonn this week are dealing with issues and problems that should have been addressed some four years ago in Copenhagen, when governments were last meant to deliver a new global climate deal.

"With luck, having just a single process to focus on, plus the mounting evidence of climate impacts and the increasingly obvious benefits offered by clean technologies will allow for more rapid and ambitious progress than we have seen in the past. This is certainly what is required.”

Follow ADP activity online.

Read our COP18 reporting, blogs and analysis

By Clare Saxon

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