Bonn negotiations outcomes

On June, 17 an almost 2 week-long UN intercessional on climate change ended in Bonn, Germany. Over 3 thousand representatives from 183 countries and regions of the world took part in it.

After a difficult start in Bangkok earlier this year, where over a week was spent on drafting the agenda, this time the participants managed to get to work at a normal pace. Although, despite the progress in working on technical details concerning adaptation and technology, the main questions of the negotiations, such as the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol after 2012, emissions reduction goals and long-term financing, remain unsolved.

If one compares the main expectation to the outcomes of the Bonn meetings, the following picture appears:

Strengthening of commitments and proposed actions to reduce emissions

Unfortunately, little progress was achieved here. As for now there are voluntary reduction goals declared by the countries in the appendices to the Copenhagen Accord, but they are not binding. China and India, who are among the largest carbon emitters are strongly against any sort of commitments for themselves and really mean that from the historical justice point of view they have the right for industrial growth that implies emissions growth. Russia’s commitments (15-25% reduction by 2020) practically mean that the emissions will increase, which is totally unacceptable, as viewed by Russian Socio-Ecological Union. The situation is complicated by the uncertainty with the future of Kyoto – Russia, Japan and Canada said they would not be part of the second commitment period. This also has an effect on the parties and makes them less likely to be eager to take increased obligations upon themselves.

Identification of climate fund financing sources

Countries’ representatives proposed a number of ideas concerning possible sources of such financing. In Copenhagen an agreement was reached to emit 30 billion dollars by 2012 and 100 billion by 2020 to support poor countries’ low-carbon development and adaptation to climate change. But the question of the sources of this money is still open. Besides, a large amount of paperwork and work on mobilization of finances in the amount that is necessary to address climate issues remains to be done. Nowadays, approximately 30 billion dollars are spent annually to protect rare species of flora and fauna. Climate change will increase this number drastically. Additional expenses necessary to address climate change are now estimated to be from 100 to 150 billion dollars a year.

Stronger commitments to support and implement adaptation measures

The negotiators identified the most crucial actions, such as the collection of data based on the ecosystems approach. A certain progress was achieved in terms of development of National Adaptation plans in the poorest countries and in the establishment of a special Adaptation Committee. It is planned that it will become operational at Durban, which will help coordinate measures and projects on adaptation in different countries and will boost international cooperation on clean technology. But the talk about specific mechanisms and technical and technological support for countries most vulnerable to climate change yielded nothing, while it is obvious that delay in addressing these issues may lead to catastrophes. Considering the current temperature rising trends, an island state of Tuvalu may sink under water within 50 years, and many countries like i.e. Bangladesh will lose large areas of their land due to floods.

The future of the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol after 2012

Japan, Canada and Russia are strong opponents of the second period. As justified by Japan, only 27% or global emissions are covered by the Protocol now and this number is decreasing. With the current trend there is no chance to reduce the impact on our climate. Even the EU says it makes sense to support Kyoto-2 only given that the largest emitters such as China and India sign up. Developing countries, in their turn, are all for the prolongation of the commitment period based on the Protocol in its current form.

Russia, aside from the memorable decision not to support Kyoto-2, made it visible one more time by proposing a change to the Convention that would imply a constant revision of the status of the parties according to their socio-economical development and thus their place in the Annex 1 or Annex 2 and eligibility for economical help. According to WWF experts this would be a positive step that will bring the UN Framework Climate Change Convention closer to the real-life situation. The proposal was discussed at the negotiations and was received fairly well.

Bonn outcomes cannot be called overwhelming. Russian Socio-Ecological Union expresses hope that in the next few months the negotiators, by working consistently, at a normal pace, will help make Cancun Agreements a reality and will help ensure a climate-safe future for all of us.

One more intercessional meeting will take place in autumn before the main concluding event in Durban, South Africa. This intercessional meeting is supposed to help better prepare for COP17 and, as the Executive Secretary of the Convention hopes, will enable the governments to propose solutions that will be acceptable for all the parties to be sealed at Durban.