Bridge-building in Bonn on shaky foundations?

Bridge-building in Bonn on shaky foundations?

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Date: 31st October 2014
Type: Feature

Kiran Sura and Christina Elvers of CDKN's Negotiations Support team report on the latest UNFCCC climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

Last week saw climate negotiators from around the world descend onto Bonn, Germany for another round of international talks on a global climate agreement which Parties are hoping to deliver in Paris next December.

Unfortunately the positive energy generated during the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in New York in September did not transfer over to the World Conference Centre in Bonn. The week got off to a slow start, with Parties to the Convention dogmatically sticking to their usual positions, and unwilling to find common ground, despite calls by the ADP Co-Chairs for Bonn to be a bridge building session. However in the corridors the conversations proved more promising, with unusual suspects’ seeming to increasingly start working towards finding compromise and alignment.

At the end the week, whilst progress was not as far advanced as many said was needed for Lima, a new iteration of the Co-Chairs’ draft COP decision on the implementation of enhanced pre-2020 climate action was distributed which made some minor progress.

Positions on intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) in particular were highly polarised in the absence of any formal guidance from the UNFCCC on what must be in, what can be in and what is out? Some countries believe INDCs should only focus on mitigation – including most of the developed world and the LDC Group. Conversely the Africa Group, Saudi Arabia and Mexico have called for INDCs to address mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation for fear of these issues not making it in to the elements of a 2015 deal otherwise. No agreement was reached on this important issue.

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom in Bonn. On Thursday, the EU announced an emission reduction target of at least 40 per cent by 2030, a move welcomed by other countries and NGOs alike. This announcement was important for keeping talks on track and gave them a somewhat renewed sense of purpose. And the bilaterals on the sidelines may well have laid the foundation for the trust and compromise needed for Lima and Paris.

Clearly, the negotiators have their work cut out for COP 20. Agreements have to be reached and deals brokered and – most time consuming of all – the actual text has to be agreed upon. The timeline of milestones to deliver the Paris Protocol are already slipping. Bonn didn’t deliver the break-through that some had hoped it would. Can enough be achieved in Lima to get it back on track?

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