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BB200607, News in Brief

Post 2012 climate talks begin in Bonn

29.01.2007

World climate change talks took place in Bonn mid-May to discuss a concerted climate change strategy, following the Kyoto Protocol’s current ratification block.

Two tracks of discussions took place: one involving all 189 contracting Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the other involving the 163 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

An informal "dialogue on long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the convention," took place among the UNFCCC stakeholders, in which issues such as sustainable development, adaptation to climate change, the potential of technology and the use of market-based approaches to combat climate change were discussed.

More formal negotiations kicked off for the Kyoto Protocol signatories: a week-long “Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol.”

Firm agreement was reached that committed actions were needed post 2012, but not on actual levels. Rather a ‘roadmap’ was sketched out. Talks are tabled to last around two years.

Richard Kinley, acting head of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, said “Governments need to agree on how the world is to reduce emissions within 2-3 years.”

Obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are incumbent on the 35 richest nations and have not as yet been extended to developing countries.

NGOs lobbied for deeper emission cuts in the face of rapidly melting ice-caps, which are conjuring the spectre of a chain of disasters. NGOs felt commitment to stronger cuts could have been made but were content, according to statements made, that the process was moving in the right direction.

The Kyoto Protocol is ground-breaking in international law for binding such a large number of countries to a commitment, especially one that impinges on economic activity, but the corollary of having such a large number of parties is that targets end up shallow. The unity of the effort is what holds it together. The Protocol was shaken by news from Canada in May that that country would not be able to meet its commitment, and is nervous about Japan’s wavering. Non-participation of the US, the world’s greatest emitter, is a stark omission, and post-2012 talks pivot on the issue of the inclusion or not of developing countries. Australia is the other tier one nation still outside the pact.

Finland is poised to take over the presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 July and its environment minister, Jan Erik Enestam, has set the international climate change negotiations as the top priority.

In light of the accelerating rate of climate change EWEA urges hasty and committed action from all countries under the UN umbrella. Scientists and politicians have repeatedly declared the imperative of reaching a 60% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which requires targets to deepen and widen post 2012. Renewable energy is an obvious solution given that energy accounts for two thirds of greenhouse gas emissions. Wind energy has already proved it has the pace to pick up the slack from dirty and moribund coal-fired generators.

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