Bonn III: Summary

It’s been a week since the third session of the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Talks concluded. As delegates take their vacations and prepare for the next session of negotiations in Tianjin, China, they leave much for civil society to reflect and act upon with only two months before COP 16. This time, the talks took a large step in the right direction in that both working groups, ended the week with draft negotiating texts. Ironically, the feelings of optimism and uncertainty that had foreshadowed the work of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP respectively flip-flopped in the closing plenaries.

The 11th meeting of the AWG-LCA began with a much-improved second iteration of the draft negotiating text from the previous session, but after working in heated drafting groups all week, several delegates emerged disappointed or frustrated at the text’s ballooning size. Whereas some developing countries were enthused by the inclusion of e text from the Cochabamba’s People’s Agreement, others were concerned with the pace of the negotiations and felt that the explosion of bracketed text would hinder, rather than help the efforts to achieve a global climate agreement. The 13th meeting of the AWG-KP got off to a rough start with anxiety over the “numbers” debate and whether a negotiating text could be produced by Friday. Thankfully, a “numbers” workshop that began on the first day of the session brought clarity and resonance to the science that has decried the state of current pledges in relation to capping temperature increase. As the the AWG-KP Chair swiftly brought the closing plenary to an end, delegates were hopeful that the level of ambition could be increased in line-by-line negotiations in Tianjin.

An understandable and significant amount of attention has been brought to the continuation of the KP past COP 16 into a second CP. The Umbrella Group and the EU (though somewhat more flexibly) have made signals of their preference of a single, legally-binding agreement under both working groups, one that could possibly reduce the KP to a mere amendment. Several countries, including Australia and Japan, have gestured toward the Copenhagen Accord positively. These circumstances have sent shivers down the spine of the NGO community as we brace for a possible second COP failure in Cancun.

Still, we have until November to remind our governments that we’re concerned and watching. In this short period of time, we would encourage members of UNANIMA to not only pray for clear and deliberate decision-making at COP 16, but also to contact their governments and push for a higher level of ambition on the climate agenda. This would include asking for your country to increase its current pledge for emission reductions if it is party to the KP; it would also mean encouraging the calculation of QUELROs without including LULUCFs or carryover AAUs, which can mask the actual amount of carbon emissions being produced. If your country is not party to the LCA, we urge you to petition your governments for climate legislation that is legally binding and accountable at COP 16. All countries need to be on the same page if our climates are to be preserved and protected, including those that are most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this and past opportunities I’ve had to represent UNANIMA at the UNFCCC Climate Change Negotiations. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to email them to me. Thanks for reading — until Cancun!

Your reporter in Bonn,
Jessica Chen, Program Coordinator