3 june 2013

Pressure mounts as UN climate talks resume in Bonn

By John Parnell, RTCC, 3 June 2013

The UN climate talks resume on Monday for a two week sitting in Bonn as delegations run out of housekeeping tasks and substantive issues come to the fore.

At the end of April a more relaxed gathering of negotiators met to exchange early ideas for the new 2015 global climate treaty that will be applicable to all nations.

“It’s like the calm before the storm, people jockeying for position,” Seychelles negotiator Ronny Jumeau told RTCC at the conclusion of that session.

“I don’t think anyone has put their cards on the table yet. I think the fangs and the claws will come out in June, when the pressure starts on ambition.”

That time is now.

Image images//import_a7636889610b4a6ce255980d158526da_Bonn-2013-flickr-unfccc-466px.jpg

The next round of the talks will dig deeper into the plans proposed in April (Source: Flickr/UNFCCC) Click on thumbnail to enlarge.

Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which put binding commitments on rich nations only, the new deal will apply to every country, albeit to differing extents.

How those varying pledges are designed is at the core of the debate.

Three ideas dominated in April.

Brazil has suggested a return to its MATCH calculation that is largely based on historic emissions with those that have put the most greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, being asked to put far less in now.

The EU hopes to develop criteria for a gradation of promises from binding cuts for rich nations to clean development policies for poorer nations.

The US has backed a pledge and review system that would allow countries to set their own targets that would then be assessed by their peers.

EU chief negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger agreed with Jumeau that delegates were not exchanging frank opinions at the April meeting with the focus more on information gathering.

“I don’t think people were showing their true colours. I think they wanted to understand more about what the US was saying,” he told RTCC.

RTCC Video: “Fangs and claws will be out in June,” says Ronny Jumeau. Go to RTCC website for this.

The US proposal is perhaps the best they can offer given the hostility climate policies face back home but former UK climate change ambassador John Ashton has warned that it must not gain traction.

“This is what my friend and colleague Tom Burke calls a New Washington Consensus on climate change. That approach can’t work. We can’t achieve consensus on that basis. That was the lesson of [the failed UN talks in] Copenhagen,” Ashton told an audience at London’s SOAS University last week.

“It’s really important that if there is an effort to impose that New Washington Consensus, that it fails.”

The NGO community is even less enamoured with the idea.

“If the 2020 deal is made-up of a every country doing as it pleases with no allocation of fair-shares of effort, as proposed by the US, then it won’t be worth the paper it’s written on,” said Meena Raman, of the Third World Network.


As well as filling in the details of these proposals and debating their content, it is also important for the Bonn talks to work on a timeline.

The EU’s submission to the UNFCCC started to flag up some potential milestones.

“COP 19 in Warsaw will need to set the path for active preparation for and communication of indicative commitments,” the document reads.

“The Secretary General’s summit of World leaders [in September 2014] may provide a good forum to discuss proposals for mitigation commitments by Parties,” it suggests.

The USA has previously expressed its desire for a slower pace of development on target setting. This could be interpreted cynically or more optimistically, it could be a ploy to buy time for the newly ambitious administration to build support back home for deeper cuts.

The new US approach was described as less combative and more constructive. There were no reports of a dramatic shift in its position.

Good faith

Poland, the host of the next COP summit in Warsaw this November has begun working with France, the likely host for the decisive 2015 meeting where the global deal must be agreed.

It is a delicate stage in the negotiations and maintaining and growing trust between parties will be vital.

China called throughout the Doha climate talks at the tail end of 2012 for a roadmap from developed nations to show how they would scale-up climate finance from around $10bn a year now to the $100bn a year that the Green Climate Fund has been asked to hit annually by 2020.

Runge-Metzger says that was not going to happen before developing countries have shown what projects they plan so that the funding can be designated where it is needed most.

“We agreed to talk about the roadmap in Warsaw. It has to be routed in reality and reflect what is really happening on the ground. When it comes to finance, we can’t just draw a line in the sand without knowing which programmes and projects can be financed,” he said.

“No government has sufficient public finance to park it somewhere. The private sector is looking for things to do on the ground, but that depends on the preparedness of developing countries.”

It is only natural that greater stakes will mean fiercer negotiations. The hope will be that enough progress will be made to ensure Warsaw is set up to deliver its contribution to the 2015 deal as the time for talking dwindles.

Carbon rise spurs 'urgent' call at UN climate talks

AFP Yahoo, June 3, 2013,

BONN (AFP) - Negotiators on Monday launched a new round of UN climate talks to warnings that a newly breached threshold was a wakeup call to tackle surging carbon emissions.

The 12-day talks under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) seek to breathe life into a quest to forge a pact on heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Troubled by bickering, nit-picking and defence of national interests, the process coincides with the rise of carbon dioxide (CO2) to historic levels.

UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres told delegates that US scientists in Hawaii last month had detected more than 400 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere for the first time in human history.

"I do not need to remind you that we simply cannot afford not to deliver implementation results urgently," Figueres said.

After discussions among two technical bodies on Monday, the talks get down to tougher business on Tuesday.

They will try to flesh out commitments for the deal, expected to be signed in late 2015, and to beef up action in the years before the pact takes effect in 2020.

The negotiations lead up to the UNFCCC's annual minister-level talks, which this year will take place in Warsaw from November 11 to 22.

Political interest on tackling climate change at a global level peaked in the runup to the 2009 Copenhagen Summit.

But the low-level compromise that was brokered there, amid scenes of chaos and finger-pointing, has dashed expectations that the UN forum can do very much.

In the meantime, carbon emissions are reaching new record highs, driven by emerging countries that are devouring coal, oil and gas to power their economic growth.

The 195 UNFCCC parties have pledged to limit warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial temperatures, when CO2 levels were 270 ppm.

But carbon concentrations are escalating at around two or three ppm each year, placing Earth on track for warming of as much as two degrees C (nine degrees F) by century's end, a figure that many scientists say would be catastrophic.

According to some opinions, emissions must peak within the next few years, and then decline sharply afterwards in order to reach safer levels.

"We have already seen real changes to rainfall patterns, to crop yields, increases in storm surges and droughts that are starving and parching vulnerable people across the globe. These impacts are the heralds of a planetary emergency," said Harjeet Singh with the group ActionAid.

In an interview in Manila with AFP, Greenpeace chief Kumi Naidoo said he saw "no reason to have even any sense of optimism" that momentum had improved since the last big UNFCCC meeting, held in Doha, Qatar, last December.

"The UN negotiating system is cumbersome, it is problematic, it is tedious. However, the UN, warts and all, is the best and only vehicle we have to ensure we can move forward as a united global family to address climate change."

Climate talks open as NGOS urge nations to make every moment count between now and 2015

Bonn, Germany - June 3, 2013: Climate Action Network (CAN) urged countries to continue to make progress outlining the elements of a comprehensive, global agreement that puts us on the path to fair, sustainable development at the UN climate negotiations opening in Bonn, Germany, today.

“Every moment counts,” said Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis from Climate Action Network Latin America. “Especially given that atmospheric carbon pollution concentration just pushed through the 400 parts per million landmark and that there is likely to be as few as five negotiating sessions between now and when the global agreement is supposed to be signed in 2015.”

Key elements that need to be taken forward to the major talks in Warsaw in November include a way to fairly measure national climate action which takes into account differing circumstances as well as defining the structure and principles of the agreed international mechanism to deal with communities and cultures which are irretrievably lost as a result of climate change.

Sivan Karath, from the Stockholm Environmental Institute, said agreeing a way to measure fairness of climate action could be the key to unlocking progress towards the 2015 agreement.

At the same time, Jason Anderson from WWF said countries need to commit to concrete steps to reduce carbon pollution before 2020.

“CAN - the world’s biggest network of NGOs working on climate change - is urging countries to put their support behind a plan for leaders to increase their 2020 carbon pollution reduction commitments next year at a summit being held by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon,” Anderson said.

“This is vital if we are going to rectify the fact we are not doing nearly enough to deliver a safe climate," Maurtua Konstantinidis said.

The year was not even half way over and we had already seen devastating floods in Argentina and the melting of Arctic sea ice being linked to not only Australia's harshest ever summer, where they needed new colors to define hot on the map but also a frozen spring in Europe and North America.

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