So in the first of the blogs while I take some time off to finish my Masters we hear from Nic, a friendly Aussie cleverly disguised as a Brit. A seasoned UNFCCCer he travelled OVERLAND from oz to get to the last CoP in Poland! And definitely knows his stuff. He’s going to give us all a bit more depth into what we actually saw happen in Bonn a couple of weeks ago and what it all means as we hurtle towards Copenhagen.
G’day. Nic here – filling in while Anna’s off getting an education.
So, as Anna concluded last week, the pace of negotiation at Bonn III was slow.
But just how slow?
Well, “only limited progress was made,” said Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer. A pretty honest account after a week of optimism.
Most notably, in the KP meetings, countries focussed heavily on mitigation action (reduction of emissions) for developed countries, including announcements from Russia and New Zealand. Now, depending on your point of view, this emphasis on reduction commitments from the industrialized world might be read as great news. But, as Yvo said, only “half the problem” is addressed when focusing on a small number of countries mitigation action. As the Chair-person said, everyone will have to “work twice as hard” at the next meeting.
In the LCA, countries did some serious thinking about the long agreement text (nickname – “the brick”) that covers the main areas of a plan agreed in Bali. Small groups were formed and a lot of extra materials were generated as tools to guide the process further in digesting and negotiating the text at the next meeting in 5 weeks time.
Some countries found it hard to see their proposals in the way the wanted them written in the text and asked for all the ideas to be attributed to the relevant countries: this was made available on the UNFCCC site.
Not all areas progressed evenly, but some (such as adaptation and technology) did alright. However now there are two “bricks” as the original text is still the main text and the new work is considered separate.
As these were informal meetings, they were not required to adopt conclusions, however, all the work will go into documents the chair will make available for the next meeting. The work achieved is generally considered necessary to have completed in order to start proper line-by-line-bashing at the next meeting and to reach agreement in a few months.
But this scene is a little late starting in the long-running show known as The Road to Copenhagen.
We know Time is short, but just how short?
Well, there are 3 more meetings.
Nearly 200 pages of proposed text, with more than 2000 brackets still to be condensed.
192 parties (countries, not social events) to come to consensus.
105 days to Copenhagen.
BUT ONLY 15 NEGOTIATING DAYS REMAINING.
Blimey, there seems to be a fair distance to go yet.
There might be a chance for some to discuss a bit more before Bangkok. Those invited can chat at the G20. And for everyone else? Perhaps the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Event on Climate Change in New York next month. Perhaps, not? One can never be too sure whether countries get the sort of representation they would like at these meetings.
So is everyone dragging their feet?
Before the Bonn III conference, at the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns, Yvo called the small island countries “the conscience of the convention,” and asked them to pressure other governments. At the end of Bonn III, 80 countries, comprised of the Alliance of Small Island States and the Less Developed Countries called for the Copenhagen agreement to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degree Celsius as soon as possible. A strong demand, but unfortunately not guaranteed to be included in the consensus agreement.
Youth, the largest stakeholder group, famous for strong demands for action have also gathered around the world in the last week. In what was incorrectly described as “the largest ever gathering of young climate activists”, young people met in Seoul, South Korea to call for stronger action. I, myself was in Denmark as part of a similar meeting of world youth.
Youth want a bigger say in the proceedings
And here in the UK the Department of Energy and Climate Change have responded, granting the UK Youth Climate Coalition’s Youth Delegation a meeting with the UK negotiators next month to discuss their own future. You’ll definately be hearing from us after that one!
So are we better off after Bonn III?
Well it depends how you measure ‘better off’. Some might argue that the progress that has been made is politically unprecedented and although slow, worthy of the time required. Others might argue that Bonn III has left us in a worse position in many ways, especially if you look at our progress towards a meaningful agreement versus our remaining time potential.
In his closing statement Yvo said “A climate deal in Copenhagen this year is an unequivocal requirement to stop climate change from slipping out of control.” Where we are versus where we need to be becomes a problem if time is short and indeed, as Yvo put it,
“at this rate, we will not make it.”