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Bonn Climate Change Talks - June 2009

From 1-12 June 2009, several meetings are taking place in Bonn, Germany, as part of ongoing negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol. The Convention’s subsidiary bodies, the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), will hold their 30th sessions. Longer-term aspects of international climate change cooperation will be considered by the sixth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 6) and the eighth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 8). The two AWGs are scheduled to conclude their work by the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009.

At its sixth meeting, the AWG-LCA is expected to concentrate on a Chair’s negotiating text (FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/8). The text encompasses the key aspects of the Bali Action Plan (decision 1/CP.13), namely a shared vision for long-term cooperative action, mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology. In addition, AWG-LCA Chair Michael Zammit Cutajar (Malta) is proposing that AWG-LCA 8 consult informally on the legal form of the outcome and further organization of work (FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/7).

The AWG-KP Chair John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) has prepared two documents for AWG-KP 8: a proposal on amendments to the Kyoto Protocol pursuant to Article 3.9 (Annex I parties’ further commitments); and a text on other issues, such as land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), the flexibility mechanisms, common metrics and greenhouse gases, sectors and source categories. These documents were requested by AWG-KP 7, which also agreed to continue considering Annex I parties’ aggregate emission reductions in the post-2012 period “as a key focus” of AWG-KP 8.

At its thirtieth session, the SBI is expected to take up agenda items such as capacity building, national communications, technology transfer, the financial mechanism and administrative, financial and institutional matters. The SBSTA is expected to consider, inter alia, the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP), methodological issues, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD), and technology transfer.


The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992, which sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference” with the climate system. The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994, and now has 192 parties.

In December 1997, delegates at COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, agreed to a Protocol to the UNFCCC that commits industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve emission reduction targets. These countries, known under the UNFCCC as Annex I parties, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2% below 1990 levels between 2008-2012 (the first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005, and now has 184 parties.

In 2005, the first Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (COP/MOP 1) in Montreal, Canada, established the AWG-KP on the basis of Protocol Article 3.9, which mandates the consideration of Annex I parties’ further commitments at least seven years before the end of the first commitment period. In addition, COP 11 agreed in Montreal to consider long-term cooperation under the Convention through a series of four workshops known as “the Convention Dialogue,” which continued until COP 13.

BALI ROADMAP: COP 13 and COP/MOP 3 took place in December 2007, in Bali, Indonesia. The focus of the Bali conference was on long-term issues. These negotiations resulted in the adoption of the Bali Action Plan, which established the AWG-LCA to focus on four key elements of long-term cooperation identified during the Convention Dialogue: mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology. The Bali Action Plan contains a non-exhaustive list of issues to be considered under each of these areas and calls for articulating a “shared vision for long-term cooperative action.”

The Bali conference also resulted in an agreement on a two-year process, the Bali Roadmap, which covers negotiation “tracks” under the Convention and the Protocol and sets a deadline for concluding the negotiations at COP 15 and COP/MOP 5, to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009. The two key bodies under the Bali Roadmap are the AWG-LCA and the AWG-KP, which held four negotiation sessions in 2008: April in Bangkok, Thailand; June in Bonn, Germany; August in Accra, Ghana; and December in Poznán, Poland.

COP 14: During COP 14 in Poznán, AWG-LCA 4 continued discussing all the key elements of the Bali Action Plan. It mandated the AWG-LCA Chair to prepare a document for consideration by AWG-LCA 5 that would focus negotiations on the fulfillment of the Bali Action Plan, and a negotiating text for AWG-LCA 6 in June 2009. 

AWG-KP 6 held a strategic discussion on all elements of its work programme and decided that in order to finalize agreement on Annex I parties’ further commitments at COP/MOP 5, the AWG-KP needs to consider in 2009 the aggregate scale of emission reductions by Annex I parties, and the contribution by parties individually or jointly to the aggregate scale, as well as other issues identified in paragraph 49 of its conclusions (FCCC/KP/AWG/2008/8). These issues include: the flexibility mechanisms; LULUCF; greenhouse gases, sectors and sources; potential consequences of tools, policies, measures and methodologies; aviation and maritime bunker fuels; and legal matters.

AWG-LCA 5 & AWG-KP 7: From 29 March - 8 April 2009, AWG-LCA 5 and AWG-KP 7 convened in Bonn, Germany. The main objective of the session was to work towards negotiating text under both AWGs.

The AWG-LCA considered a note prepared by the Chair to focus negotiations on the fulfillment of the Bali Action Plan and on the components of the agreed outcome (FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/4, Parts I and II). Discussions at AWG-LCA 5 focused on further elaborating elements for a draft negotiating text to be prepared by the Chair for the next AWG-LCA session in June 2009.

The focus in AWG-KP 7 was on emission reductions by Annex I parties under the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 and on legal issues, including possible amendments to the Protocol. The AWG-KP also considered the other issues in its work programme, including the flexibility mechanisms, LULUCF and potential consequences of response measures. The AWG-KP agreed to request its Chair to prepare two documents for the June session: a proposal for amendments to the Protocol under Article 3.9 (Annex I parties’ further commitments); and a text on other issues, such as LULUCF and the flexibility mechanisms.


DIALOGUE ON CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION FOR LAND AND WATER MANAGEMENT: The concluding Dialogue on Climate Change Adaptation for Land and Water Management was held at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya from 16-17 April 2009. The event was co-hosted by UNEP and the Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark, Ulla Tørnæs. The Dialogue addressed the need to: tackle existing problems in land and water management to build resilience to climate change; strengthen institutions for land and water management; and increase financing targeted towards the most vulnerable people.

IPCC 30: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held its 30th session in Antalya, Turkey, from 21-23 April 2009. The meeting focused mainly on the scoping process for the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) with a view to providing guidance to the experts who are expected to define the AR5 outline during a meeting to be held in Venice, Italy, from 13-17 July 2009. The IPCC also decided to proceed with the preparation of a Special Report on managing the risks of extreme events and disasters, and agreed to hold a number of expert meetings on topics, such as human settlements, and detection and attribution of anthropogenic climate change.

UNFCCC TECHNICAL WORKSHOP UNDER THE NAIROBI WORK PROGRAMME: The UNFCCC Technical Workshop on Increasing Economic Resilience to Climate Change and Reducing Reliance on Vulnerable Economic Sectors through Economic Diversification took place from 28-30 April 2009, in Cairo, Egypt. The workshop was convened under the NWP at SBSTA’s request with a view to promoting understanding, as well as the development and dissemination of measures, methodologies and tools for increasing economic resilience, including the understanding of social aspects.

MAJOR ECONOMIES FORUMS: The Major Economies Forum held two meetings, from 27-28 April 2009 in Washington, DC, US, and from 25-26 May 2009 in Paris, France. These meetings served as preparatory sessions for a Major Economies Forum Leaders’ meeting that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has agreed to host in La Maddalena, Italy, in July 2009. The 17 major economies invited to attend were: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Denmark, in its capacity as the President of COP 15, and the UN were also invited.

According to the Chair’s Summary from the first Forum, participants shared the view that climate change is a clear and present danger, demanding immediate attention from all countries, and that the Major Economies Forum Leaders’ meeting in July should send a strong political signal to add momentum to the Copenhagen process and to collective efforts to achieve a low-carbon future.

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