Bonn 2012: Climate talks continue

The next round of international negotiations on climate change began in Bonn (Germany). This is the first official meeting of the parties, which will discuss the so-called "Durban platform" - a policy paper on a new climate agreement.

Nothing serious is expected from the negotiating sessions in Bonn. However, the agenda of the events includes issues important to the overall process: a new climate agreement, terms of the second period of the Green Climate Fund operation, and a number of technical aspects.

Bonn can become a landmark for the second commitment period of the Protocol. At the next sessions, participants will have to finally decide, when the second period will end, in 2017 or 2020. Prior to May 1, the Protocol parties were required to provide official information about their commitments for the second period,. So far, only EU, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Norway, Switzerland, Belarus, Australia and New Zealand have sent their communications.

Late last year, Russia, along with Canada and Japan, announced its refusal to participate in the second period of the Kyoto Protocol. After much hesitation, the EU decided to go to Kyoto-2 without Japan, Canada and Russia (and without the U.S.). However, there is no final UNFCCC decision, the amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, which then all participant countries should ratify. "Work on the amendment is still going, and, in principle, any changes are possible, including Russia's entry in the list of Kyoto-2 countries" - the WWF Russia Climate and Energy Program coordinator Alexei Kokorin says.

If Russia does not participate in the Kyoto-2, it will stop all its JI projects since 2013, which will result in loss of about 1 billion dollars. On the eve of Bonn, Russia produced several proposals. One proposal is in the context of the country's success in capacity building (as a country in transition), the other one is our achievements in education, training and raising public awareness about climate change problem. In addition to successes, the proposals summarize the opinions of our country for the future development of the corresponding international action http://unfccc.int/files/documentation/submissions_from_parties/applicati....

Another Russian proposal was submitted to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SABSTA). It involves a very important issue of research and international dialogue on the issue of emissions and sinks of greenhouse gases in the marine and coastal ecosystems http://unfccc.int/files/documentation/submissions_from_parties/applicati....

The document provides a summary of the state of scientific knowledge on emissions and sinks in the tundra, swamps, steppes and meadows, and some of the scientific and technical issues that are important in the dialogue on research are then offered to the consideration.

Proposed are improvement of the system of assessment for areas; detailed quantitative analysis of the components of the carbon cycle in the tundra, steppes and marshes, and analysis of the effects of human transformation; development of technologies for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions resulting from fires in steppes and drained peatlands; assessment of the contribution of efforts to preserve ecosystems in the tundra, steppes and peatlands in protected natural areas, nature reserves and national parks, and national efforts to reduce and prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

Russia also proposes to develop schemes and mechanisms of economic incentives for conservation and restoration of the steppe, tundra, and peatlands for carbon sequestration and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In the proposals, Russia once again emphasized that the agreement should be "universal in the composition of participants of this international legal instrument." The Russian President and the Prime Minister have repeatedly stated that our country will participate in the global effort, but only if the two first world countries in terms of emissions - China and the United States - are involved in equally actively.

However, numerous expert assessments indicate that the company of "climate outsiders" is extremely unfortunate for our country. Calculations of the Gaidar Economic Policy Institute in partnership with WWF have shown that radical improvement of energy efficiency of buildings and bringing them up to modern European standards by 2030 completely stops the growth of emissions in the energy sector. They remain stable and about a third less than in 1990. Adding measures to stimulate reduction of CO2 emissions in the economy as a whole leads to their gradual decrease. For example, if one starts with payments equal to $ 15 per ton of CO2 and gradually increases them up to $ 80 by 2050 (in prices of 2009), the effect is very significant: CO2 emissions in the energy sector would decrease by about 50 % of the 1990 level.

The session in Bonn has just begun. It is the first one of the three meetings planned for 2012. Representatives of environmental NGOs still hope for more adequate "climate" Russia's behavior (RSEU position on climate: http://www.rusecounion.ru/position_rseu). It is obvious that there are many countries among the participants of the international climate process, which could be perfect candidates for cooperation with Russia, resulting in clear advantages in transition to high-tech development schemes. Namely they, but not China, India and the U.S., should be a good company for our country.