Bonn Climate Change Meeting: Any progress on building a new global climate agreement?
Willemien Viljoen, tralac Researcher, discusses the second meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) in Bonn, Germany
One of the key outcomes of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa (at the end of 2011) was the launch of a new negotiations platform, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to produce a new and universal protocol on greenhouse gas reductions, a legal instrument or another outcome that will be legally binding by 2015 to be applicable beyond the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol which comes to an end in 2020. The negotiations also include finding ways to increase existing levels of national and international action and ambitions to decrease greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).
This new negotiations platform is the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) which had its second meeting in Bonn, Germany from 29 April to 3 May 2013. The bulk of the work under the ADP takes place in two Workstreams. Workstream 1 covers the determination of the legal instrument that will be in force when the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end. This includes determining the scope, structure and design of the 2015 agreement. Workstream 2 is focused on increasing ambitions for reducing GHGs and actions to address the effects of climate change, focusing on the benefits of mitigation and adaptation actions; barriers and incentives for actions and finance, technology and capacity-building required to support the implementation of all initiatives.
In order to facilitate and focus the workshops and round-table discussions under each workstream the Co-chairs of the ADP, Jayant Moreshver Mauskar of India and Harald Dovland of Norway, provided possible questions to be addressed during the Bonn sessions. Focused questions for Workstream 1 included:
How will the principles of the UNFCCC be applied in the new agreement?
What is needed in the 2015 agreement to enhance mitigation action?
How would the 2015 agreement be designed to create incentives for ambitious national and international actions?
Discussions under Workstream 2 included some of the following focused questions:
What barriers exist for developed countries to undertake stronger commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention and how can these barriers be overcome?
How can enhanced delivery of means of implementation contribute to concrete action at the national level?
What further actions can the Parties take at the national level to increase ambitions, what incentives can drive Parties to undertake these actions and how can international cooperation initiatives contribute to strengthening national actions?
According to Meena Ramon, climate change negotiations expert with the Third World Network, little progress was made on a new agreement at the Bonn meetings. This meeting was more about the conceptualisation and exploration of options for a new agreement with Parties exchanging their views and discussing the possible elements and proposals that could be included into a new agreement. There was also no progress on long-term financing, with developing countries indicating that without any progress on this issue they will not be able to take any action under the new agreement.
In closing the Bonn meetings Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC stated that the Parties have “converged on the need to construct an innovative set of ways for all countries to commit to climate actions that are compatible with their national circumstances; that the contours of the new agreement must integrate action across all levels (international, national, sub-national and private sector); and that a mechanism must be created to regularly ratchet up ambition to stay below a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise.”
However, there is still no convergence among the Small Island States, developing countries and the industrialised economies on the way reduction commitments will be determined, formulated and enforced.
The Small Island States want a legally binding agreement with mandatory targets to cut GHGs for the industrialised nations due to their historical responsibility to address the effects of climate change.
Developed countries, including the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan want a flexible approach to setting and implementing reduction commitments. This pledge and review process would require countries to commit internationally to targets set at the national level by each country, based on their own determination of what they are able to do (self-identification of targets), taking into account their national circumstances. These targets can then be adjusted for adequacy over the commitment period.
Developing countries were not satisfied with the approach of self-identification of targets suggested by the developed nations and want developed countries to commit to internationally determined reduction commitments; an approach consistent with that of the binding commitments in the Kyoto Protocol. According to the developing economies if developed countries are allowed to nationally determine their own targets, these reduction commitments will not take into account already existing emissions gaps and the historical responsibility of the industrialised nations.
Parties are hopeful that the divide between the Small Island States, developing countries and the industrialised nations on the reduction commitments and the issue of long term financing for mitigation and adaptation action in developing and least developed countries can be resolved at the next round of meetings taking place from 3 to 14 June 2013 in Bonn in conjunction with the thirty-eighth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 38) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 38).
UNFCCC (http://unfccc.int); The Irish Times (www.irishtimes.com); United Nations News Centre (www.un.org); Deutsche Welle (www.dw.de)