Climate talks stay bogged in Bonn
The latest session of UN climate talks in Bonn last week have only consolidated widespread apprehension that the 194 nations are still years away from their goal – a new comprehensive climate agreement to limit global warming to plus-2 degrees or perhaps less.
As parties look ahead to the annual climate conference in Cancun, Mexico at the end of this year, it’s clear little progress has been made on the range of major issues holding back a deal; 2020 emissions reduction targets for developed countries, emissions mitigation action for developing countries, financing help for climate adaptation in developing countries and the measurement and verification of reductions.
There was a feeling that talks went backwards in some areas last week and the even the limited progress represented in the Copenhagen Accord risks being undone. Some developing countries were seen backing away from international commitment to emissions reduction goals tabled in the Copenhagen agreement and how they would be verified. The draft negotiating text for an agreement blew out from 17 pages to 34, reflecting a widening in positions. UN officials expressed hopes that at least the buidlign blocks of a new global agreement can be agreed in Cancun.
Hanging over the talks was failure of attempts to get a climate and energy bill up in the US Congress. It became clear in recent weeks that the chances of the Democrats and the White House getting a Senate bill passed this year had gone. With Congressional elections due in November, the time has passed for now and may have passed for the rest of the Obama presidency, depending on the poll outcome.
US climate envoys were at pains to reiterate that Obama’s national target for a 17 per cent reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2020 (3.5 per cent on 1990) still stand. But there is no doubting that the lack of a legislated plan to reach it adds to developing countries’ concerns over lack of developed-country will take the hard decisions.
There is an increasing belief that a new global accord will in fact need to be two or three separate agreements emerging over years, certainly not before the end of 2011 at the earliest; a Kyoto Protocol extension, an agreement that ties in the US, and perhaps a developing countries action and financing agreement. Discussions are also underway on procedures for extending the Kyoto Protocol’s commitments beyond 2012 if no new agreement is in place.
The financing commitment made at Copenhagen requires $100 billion a year to be found by 2020, including $10 billion a year in fast-track funding up to 2012, from developed-world sources to fund emissions mitigation and climate adaptation in the developing countries. Apart from a realisation that multiple sources, public and private, will be needed to reach that amount of annual funding, little progress has been made on financing mechanisms.
Another negotiating session is scheduled for Tianjin, China in October, and Major Economies Forum meeting, before the annual UN meet in Cancun in December.
Reuters, Associated Press, Norton Rose 3-9/8/10