The Dernogalizer

June 22, 2009

End of Bonn Climate Talks

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:20 am
Tags: , ,

I’ve been following a fantastic site called Adopt a Negotiator, which allows you to follow the climate change negotiations for a global treaty for a particular country.  I wish the bloggers who were following negotiators had a way to translate their posts into English, because I enjoyed reading the posts of the of the bloggers follow the United States, Canada, and Australia, but couldn’t understand much else.  In case you want a bit of a background on where things stood regarding a global treaty going into these two week long negotiations, see the global treaty landscape and US-China talks.   The purpose of the Bonn climate talks is to make progress on the drafting of a treaty to replace the existing Kyoto treaty, which expires in 2012.  The treaty is supposed to be completed this December in Copenhagen, so time is running short.  I think  pieces of the final posts of the Canadian, US, and Austalian bloggers gives a sound description of where things stand, but over the upcoming months I’ll have plenty more updates.  I’ll show a few important paragraphs from each blog post below.

The Canadian blogger:  “The most common question I’ve been asked since returning to Halifax from the Bonn climate talks, which ended last Friday, is, “What was the most inspirational thingthat happened?”

The United Kingdom’s emissions are dropping year by year. China has committed$600 billion into green technology. There were 100 passionate young peoplepresent, ensuring the presence of another generation was seen and heard. The United States is fully participating at the negotiating table. Rich and polluting countries support the science that a 25 to 40% emission cut below 1990 levels by 2020 iscompletely necessary, and that we may need to go even farther.”

Inspirational notes aside, the resounding feeling coming away from the talks, is the deep rumbling craving for one simple attribute: Ambition.

Don’t get me wrong, the Bonn climate talks certainly moved forwards – like how my little sister moves forwards out of bed to the kitchen for breakfast at 6am. I want the negotiators to rush to their United Nations meeting desks with an ambitious level of tenacity, focus, and recognition of opportunity – because, the climate knows, we need it.

What is it that is missing? How can a driving desire for success be created? Is there a deeper level of emotion that needs unearthing? Do governments crave praise? Support? Love? Good will? Public demand? Is there more incentive needed?  I’ve adopted Canada’s negotiators. And I’m fiercely concerned about our country’s position based on the past 2 weeks.”

The US blogger:  “Major issues for the US to deal with:

1. Most NGOs consider amount of money the US is offering for adaptation for developing countries totally inadequate. Word on the street is that the administration really thinks they can get away with this negligible sum. Our response: it’s not a reasonable amount of financing, and it’s not politically feasible here. Pershing needs to go back to the Hill and tell them the current level of financing is not enough.

2. The US is trying to count money spent on international offset projects as part of the financing picture – but this is double-counting, as these projects are being used for US mitigation targets. This money flowing in is less predictable and not channeled to the right places. Don’t double-count international offsets. They’re not part of the finance package.

3. US mitigation targets are weak, though World Resources Institute analysis that everyone’s talking about says the targets are better than they look at first blush.Getting better US targets is going to require serious congressional pressure, from the president or the populace or both.

Other interesting note on US participation:

Climate refugees. Jonathan Pershing stated on the plenary floor the US is uncomfortable with language “climate refugees” being in the text, because of the possible legal implications of the word refugee. It likely makes sense for countries to be obliged to treat climate refugees like refugees – even more so because we will have made them refugees by our emissions.

Keep up the domestic pressure.”

The Australian blogger(very in depth, check out the full post): “The UN climate talks in Bonn officially closed last Friday evening (12/6/09) with the bang of a hammer from the chair. It sure has been a busy two weeks, with endless meetings, interventions, press briefings, plenary sessions and yet more meetings. Butwhat has actually been achieved? While most country delegates will tell you in the hallways that there is a “positive vibe” and “a shared desire for moving forward” I would be pulling the wool over your eyes if I said we’ve moved anywhere over the past fourteen days.

So what have the delegates been busy doing? After two weeks what we have is a negotiating text – more than two hundred pages of ideas on how to address climate change – and don’t get me wrong, it is a necessary place to start and there are some great ideas in the draft text. But, what we haven’t had over the past two weeks is any real agreement on the crucial content of the text. Instead of focusing on what we needed to accomplish together, wealthy polluting nations have focused on what they think they can get away with. Rich nations have danced around any real discussion of:

  • an aggregate emission reduction for developed (Annex 1) countries
  • a commitment to establish a finance mechanism which will generate the huge scale of money needed to support developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce their emissions.

This game of dodge ball is not a symptom of the talks themselves, the UN negotiation process has been moving along just fine, it is a symptom of lack of political will in the capital cities in key nations around the world. World leaders are failing to take leadership and this is severely holding up not only the UN climate talks, but our also our chance to avoid runaway climate change.”


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