THE BLOG
06/02/2010 04:18 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

UNFCCC in Bonn: Emissions Reductions or Market Mechanisms?

Bonn, Germany - As the UNFCCC climate talks got under way in Bonn, the two working groups began meetings: the ad hoc working group on long-term co-operative action (AWG-LCA) began with responses to the draft text and ad hoc working group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) began to discuss emissions commitments by countries covered by the Kyoto Protocol.

Tuesday, the ad hoc working group on long-term co-operative action (AWG-LCA) began discussing a 42-page text to facilitate negotiation drafted by chairwoman, Zimbabwean diplomat Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe.

G77 - representing over 130 nations and therefore the majority of the UNFCCC's 192 nations - expressed the need to "have a balance of issues in the draft text." Furthermore, it underscored that the texts "needs ... some restructurings to be in accordance with the Bali Action Plan."

The Bali Action Plan was adopted by the UNFCCC in 2007 and established the two working groups, making the following issues priorities: 1. a long-term plan to achieve greenhouse emissions reductions; 2. the funding and transfer of technology from developed nations to developing nations to assist them with adaptation to climate change; and 3. mitigation of climate change.

G77's position and concerns was seconded by virtually all nation groups and individual nations, including the Africa Group, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

The Africa Group also noted "the imbalance of the structure of the text, which does not reflect the Bali Action." AOSIS, too, underscored that "the negotiations must be made in accordance with the Bali Action Plan", adding that "the consequences of climate change are already being felt. We refuse to the believe that the international community will allow its weakest and most vulnerable to be continue to be exposed to climate change."

AOSIS member Tuvalu stated that it does "not support language from the Copenhagen Accord on so-called Green Funding. We do not consider it appropriate to include any Copenhagen Accord language, as this does not represent a consensus decision."

U.S. climate negotiator John Pershing responded stingingly, stating "I note that many here say that the Copenhagen Accord has no standing but the LCA does. Unfortunately, that's not true. The version of the LCA that we are working on is not one others have signed onto. It doesn't reflect an agreement. It doesn't have any standing."

Pershing added that "the U.S. supports a legally binding agreement as long as it equally distributes responsibility, except for LDCs," which suggests that the U.S. intends to lobby for a position whereby not only Annex I countries are held responsible for commitments to greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

The Kyoto Protocol agreed that Annex I countries would take responsibility for greenhouse gas reductions, since they are historically responsible for producing the bulk of CO2 emissions. But the four other co-authors of the Copenhagen Accord - Brazil, China, India, and South Africa - are not considered Annex I countries. And the shared responsibility was a sticking point for the U.S.

Prior to the UNFCCC meeting in Bonn, summits had taken place in various contexts and they asked that their findings be included in the UNFCCC considerations and draft text.

The People World's Conference on Climate Change (PWCCC) took place from April 19-21, 2010 in Cochabamba, bringing together 7,500 persons from 140 countries. Attendees included delegates, NGOs, indigenous persons and civil society. The meeting concluded with a Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, which was submitted to the UNFCCC for inclusion in the draft negotiating text. (http://pwccc.wordpress.com/)

From May 2-4, 2010, the Petersburg Conference took place outside Bonn, Germany. Representatives from 43 nations and the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP chairs met for an informal meeting, focusing mainly on adaptation and mitigation, and considering bilateral and multilateral initiatives.

Last week, the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference took place on May 27 to discuss and start actions on REDD+ (http://www.oslocfc2010.no/hjem.cfm). Persons from 50 countries attended, including delegates, NGOs, indigenous persons and the private sector. A much-touted outcome of this conference was an agreement whereby Norway would provide $1 million to Indonesia to reduce emissions by preventing deforestation and degradation of forests under REDD+. Although many are critical of REDD, since it does not force developed nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions domestically.

In a press conference Bolivian climate negotiator Pablo Solón stated: "We were very disappointed to see that the draft text [...] did not take into account any of the main proposals put forward by the PWCCC [...] What we see now is that we have a text that reflects mainly the Copenhagen Accord even though it was not [formally] adopted." Solon argued that "in order to have a more balanced text, we need to introduce the positions of the different parties."

The ad hoc working group on long-term co-operative action (AWG-LCA) will continue to discuss the text put forward over the course of this week. On Saturday, AWG-LCA chairwoman Mukahanana-Sangarwe will put forward a new draft.