Published June 7, 2014
from Bonn, Germany
The United Nations Climate Change Conference has convened in Bonn, Germany, on June 4 and is scheduled to go on until June 15, 2014. The Bonn conference is an “intersessional” meeting of the negotiating parties. These are sessions that are held between the Conference of the Parties (COPs), typically held at the end of each year. The present meeting in Bonn houses the 40th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SB 40) and of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 40) respectively. It also houses the resumed session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP).
The Bonn meeting is considered to be an important one as advancements made in this two-week period are expected to set the tone for the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) in Lima, December 2014. COP 20 in Lima is on the spotlight. This is because the text of a new legally binding international agreement on climate change, to come into force in 2020, is to be fully drafted in Lima, and then put on the table for agreement in Paris in 2015.
Two highly positive developments marked the opening of the Bonn conference.
1. On June 3, the day before the conference convened, the President of the United States, Barack Obama announced a proposed plan to make 30% reduction in carbon dioxide in the U.S. power sector by 2030 from 2005 levels through EPA regulation.
2. China announced that it is working on a cap on its greenhouse gas emissions. This constitutes a historic first and opens up new opportunities for possible cooperation between major emitters on setting significant targets.
In short, the Bonn meeting is taking place in a relatively positive atmosphere, with an express desire to get as much work done as possible in the wake of COP 20 in Lima. As for the specific issues, the Bonn conference’s special focus targets raising ambition on land use and areas of urbanization. Additionally, ongoing conversations on adaptation, the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, new approaches to climate financing, the idea of a new market mechanism to be adopted within the new agreement, and how to achieve a balance between market and non-market mechanisms to curb emissions figure among the central issues.
Needless to say, questions continue to arise on equity. How should equity be understood within the parameters of a new agreement? How to conceptualize the distribution of responsibilities? What is the most appropriate formulation of responsibility within a universal agreement? Should the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities be revised or preserved in the current round of negotiations? How to determine each party’s contribution within the new agreement? These are not simple questions and do not have straightforward answers. But they give depth to the multilateral negotiations on climate change.
Stay tuned for updates as the second week of the conference unfolds.
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