Same Old Divisions Mar Restart of Climate Negotiations

BONN, Germany, April 9, 2010 (ENS) – Government climate negotiators today opened a three-day round of official talks in Bonn, the first since the Copenhagen summit ended in December with the weak Copenhagen Accord, a political agreement. Many countries and the United Nations had aimed for a legally binding deal to limit global greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012.

Delegates in Bonn are already bickering over how to proceed this year to draft a text that can approved at the next annual UN climate summit November 29-December 10 in Mexico.

Protesters shovel broken glass outside the Bonn climate talks. (Photo by Simone Ackermann courtesy Germanwatch)

As they entered the hall, delegates passed a four tonne pile of broken pieces of glass dropped by environmental groups to send the message that now is the time to pick up the broken pieces of the international climate accord and get back to work.

TckTckTck partners, Germanwatch, WWF and Oxfam, the groups who dropped the glass outside the conference hall, say four tonnes of glass represents four degrees Celsius, the upper range of temperature increase the world will experience as a result of the failure to come to an agreement at the Copenhagen summit.

Inside the conference hall, Fernando Tudela of Mexico expressed support for efforts to start a new stage in these “complex negotiations.” He outlined consultations by the Mexican host group to build confidence in the process.

But the first day of the Bonn talks displayed deep fractures among governments.

The United States and China disagreed over whether to write a new draft negotiating text this year as proposed by South Korea. Chinese delegate Su Wei said a basis for work already exists in a previous text, but the U.S. delegate Jonathan Pershing said that text has over 100 pages of bracketed clauses, which denote disputed text.

The Copenhagen Accord itself was a major point of contention.

The document, drawn up last December by leaders from the United States, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, is not legally binding and it was not voted upon or signed, but simply noted.

Bonn climate delegates take a break on opening day. (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

While 111 countries and the European Union, out of the world’s 194 governments, have indicated their support for the Copenhagen Accord, Venezuela delegate Claudia Salerno told Bonn delegates today that it is not really an “accord,” at all.

Although “the urgency we face now is even greater than 2009,” Salerno said, the Copenhagen Accord contains only proposals for “voluntary reductions in carbon emissions that according to scientists would lead to increases in temperature of about five degrees Celsius (about nine degrees Fahrenheit).

Most scientists, governments and nongovernmental organizations agree that the global temperature can rise no more than two degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-Industrial Revolution levels to avoid catastrophic climate change.

In Copenhagen, Venezuela and other developing countries said they could not accept the draft Accord because it lacked ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions.

Developing country delegates in Bonn generally view the Copenhagen Accord as “a secret text put together by a selected few,” in the words of Tosi Mpanu Mpanu of the Democratic Republic of Congo, speaking for the Africa Group.

Under the Copenhagen Accord, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, has received national pledges to cut or limit emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 from 75 Parties, which together account for more than 80 percent of global emissions from energy use.

?”It is clear that while the pledges on the table are an important step towards the objective of limiting growth of emissions, they will not in themselves suffice to limit warming to below two degrees Celsius,”? said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, who steps down later this year before the Mexico climate conference.

Fernando Tudela (Photo courtesy ENB)

“?The climate conference at the end of this year in Mexico therefore needs to put in place effective cooperative mechanisms capable of bringing about significant acceleration of national, regional and international action both to limit the growth of emissions and to prepare for the inevitable impacts of climate change,”? de Boer said.

Alicia Montalvo Santamaria (Photo courtesy ENB)

Said Spain’s Alicia Montalvo Santamaria, speaking for the European Union, as Spain currently holds the presidency, “The EU recognizes the positive outcomes of the Copenhagen conference that gave important political guidance from the highest levels.”

“However, the outcome did not reflect the EU’s ambitions,” she said. “We remain fully commited to negotiations with all parties in order to conclude a comprehensive global legal framework that allows us to stay below a rise of two degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times.”

Leaders of the world’s multilateral development banks and the International Monetary Fund, meeting today at the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg, mapped out their plans to support a sustainable global recovery and agreed the Copenhagen Accord is an opportunity for action to finance measures to combat climate change.

The bank leaders said in a joint statement that they welcome the commitment of developed countries as part of the Copenhagen Accord to provide additional fast track financing for developing countries of US$30 billion in the period 2010-12 and the pledge to mobilize US$100 billion by 2020 in order to help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change and achieve the deep cuts in global emissions needed to hold the increase in global temperatures below two degrees Celsius.

The bank leaders said they “reaffirm their readiness to provide technical support to the UN process and recognize the importance of a legally binding post-2012 international agreement on climate change being concluded as soon as possible.”

Taking part in Friday’s meeting were: African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka, Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development President Thomas Mirow, European Investment Bank President Philippe Maystadt, Inter-American Development Bank Vice President Roberto Vellutini, International Monetary Fund Deputy Managing Director Murillo Portugal. For the World Bank Group, Lars Thunell, executive vice president and CEO, International Finance Corporation.

After the Bonn talks conclude on Sunday, the next climate negotiating session to open will be the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate at the U.S. State Department in Washington April 18 through 19.

Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman will serve as chair. U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern will lead U.S. participation. The meeting will take place at the level of leaders’ representatives.

This forum is intended to “facilitate a candid dialogue among major developed and developing economies to make progress in meeting the climate change and clean energy challenge, and advance the exploration of concrete initiatives and joint ventures that increase the supply of clean energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the State Department.

The 17 major economies that are members of the Major Economies Forum are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Bolivian government is convening the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth on April 19 through 22 in Cochabamba. This conference aims to allow civil society and government representatives to coalesce around common, just demands in order to give a new impetus and direction to the UN talks on climate change, organizers say.

The Bolivian conference has 17 working groups which will produce proposals on, for instance, the dangers of carbon markets, the Kyoto protocol, forests, agriculture and food sovereignty.

Another official negotiating round hosted by the UNFCCC in Bonn is scheduled for May.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2010. All rights reserved.