Climate talks in Bonn to lay groundwork for new deal

Elements of draft agreement ‘must be clear’ ahead of conference in Lima

Christiana Figueres   of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: Bonn   “will give governments the important opportunity to further develop a cohesive text” for  a deal. Photograph: Henning Kaiser /AFP/Getty Images

Christiana Figueres of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: Bonn “will give governments the important opportunity to further develop a cohesive text” for a deal. Photograph: Henning Kaiser /AFP/Getty Images

 

Delegates from all parts of the world have gathered in Bonn for the last round of negotiations on a new climate agreement prior to this year’s UN climate conference in Lima, Peru, which starts at the end of next month.

According to UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, the week-long session here “will give governments the important opportunity to further develop a cohesive text” for such a deal, which is expected to be finalised in Paris at the end of next year. “2014 has been an extraordinary year of momentum by governments, supported by climate action from cities and communities to corporations and the finance sector,” she said, adding that the latest talks should “carry forward that sense of optimism”.

The Bonn session is taking place against the backdrop of UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s climate summit in New York last month, which was preceded by a “People’s Climate March” through Manhattan that attracted some 400,000 participants.

Ms Figueres said the elements of a draft agreement “must be clear” before the Lima conference so that the text could serve as the basis for negotiating a new “universal climate agreement”, which is set to be “inked in Paris” in mid-December, 2015.

Delegates representing some 190 countries “will work towards getting clarity on what each country will contribute towards the agreement”, to achieve the goal of keeping the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.

US climate envoy Todd Stern has said his country “supports an agreement that is ambitious and durable”, with legally binding requirements on countries to release a schedule of emissions-reduction targets, with verifiable accounting and reporting.

However Mr Stern made it clear the “content of the commitment itself would not be legally binding” – as it was under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which the US signed but did not ratify. This is seen as a way of overcoming the need for approval by the US Senate.

“This new agreement will not be [like] the Kyoto Protocol,” Mr Stern said last week. Unlike Kyoto, which only applied to developed countries, the new deal “would have obligations and expectations that would apply to all countries”.

Co-chairs of the current round of talks Artur Runge-Metzger, who previously negotiated on behalf of the EU, and Trinidad diplomat Kishan Kumarsingh have said there is an opportunity to develop a draft negotiating text before the Lima conference.

In a “non-paper” circulated after a two-week round of talks in Bonn last June, they noted that “strong substantive progress” had been made then, and the latest round of negotiations was “an opportunity not to be missed” to consolidate this progress.