Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary

From Bonn to Toyako


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The Tiempo Climate Cyberlibrary was developed by Mick Kelly and Sarah Granich on behalf of the Stockholm Environment Institute and the International Institute for Environment and Development, with sponsorship from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

While every effort is made to ensure that information on this site, and on other sites that are referenced here, is accurate, no liability for loss or damage resulting from use of this information can be accepted.

The Bonn Climate Change Talks took place in June 2008. Newswatch editors Mick Kelly and Sarah Granich report on these negotiations and on related developments.

The Bonn Climate Change Talks, which were held June 2nd-13th 2008, consisted of sessions of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action, of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol and of the two Subsidiary Bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Over 2,000 people took part.

Movement along the road to the Copenhagen, where agreement on a follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol is to be achieved in late 2009, is essential, said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, as the talks opened. "The world is expecting a Copenhagen deal to reach the goal set by science without harming the economy. Parties will need to make real progress towards this goal." "A critical issue would be financial engineering: how to generate sufficient financial resources that will drive the technology into the market that allows developing countries to act, both to limit their emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change," he continued.

There was continued opposition to World Bank control of climate funds in Bonn. "With their long-term record of massive fossil fuel financing, the World Bank is spectacularly unqualified to control climate funds," said Friends of the Earth United States.

Cartoon by Lawrence Moore

© 2008 Lawrence Moore

According to a new report from the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington DC, the Bank’s role in carbon markets is "dangerously counterproductive." The World Bank is "playing both sides of the climate crisis," concludes Janet Redman, main author of the report. "It is making money off of causing the climate crisis and then turning around and claiming to solve it," she says. Instead of encouraging clean energy investors, the Bank is lending much of its financial support to the fossil fuel industry.

"We’re not at the moment seeing the leadership from industrialized countries which I think is essential," warned de Boer, midway through the Bonn meeting. As the talks ended, he described the task of reaching agreement by the end of 2009 as "daunting." "It could well be said that we have been beating around the bush," said Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, India’s representative. The United States, Canada and Australia, in particular, were accused by environmentalists of limiting progress.

On a positive note, de Boer noted that "we are seeing a huge willingness on the part of developing countries to engage in working out a new pact in return for aid and technology."

In a workshop on investment and financial flows, the Philippines, on behalf of the G-77/China, identified basic principles, including equity and direct access to funding by recipients. Barbados, for the Alliance of Small Island States, said that new resources should be channeled through the climate treaty process and proposed a Convention adaptation fund, an insurance mechanism and a technology fund. Mexico favours a world climate change fund on mitigation, adaptation and technology transfer, with participation of all countries and contributions according to greenhouse gas emissions, population and gross domestic product. Switzerland suggested a global carbon dioxide levy of US$2 per tonne on all fossil fuel emissions, with an exception for less developed countries.

Elsewhere, in a workshop on advancing adaptation through finance and technology, topics for discussion included various aspects of the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) process, which support the identification priority needs in the least developed countries. Issues covered included the NAPA guidelines and coordination with national communications, the private sector’s role in adaptation, funding sources for local adaptation policies and the use of vulnerability indices.

During this workshop, India argued that promoting development can be one of the best adaptation strategies. South Africa supported both mainstreaming adaptation into development and individual adaptation actions. China proposed establishing a climate change adaptation committee under the Convention to assist work on adaptation, focused on developing countries, with regional adaptation networks to serving as a regional arm.

The latest Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change was held June 21st-22nd in Seoul, South Korea. This series of meetings stems from an initiative launched by the Bush administration in the United States and provides an alternative forum for intergovernmental discussion of the climate issue to the UNFCCC process. The Seoul meeting was charged with drafting a declaration for consideration at the Group of Eight (G8) summit of major industrialized nations held in Toyako, Japan, July 7-9th.

de Boer called on the G8 leaders to reach agreement on mid-term greenhouse gas targets at the summit, as well as adopting a long-term goal. While it was "important to define the final destination of the journey", de Boer said, he was "also very interested in what the first stop on that journey is going to be." The European Union has called for a specific mid-term goal to be set for the year 2020.

In the event, the G8 leaders agreed to consider and adopt, in the context of the UNFCCC process, the goal of achieving a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions of at least 50 per cent by the year 2050. The need for shorter-term goals was recognized, but with no agreement on specific targets.

While this was the first time that the United States had accepted a long-term goal, criticism of the deal was harsh. Tom Picken of Friends of the Earth said that "setting a vague target for 42 years' time is utterly ineffectual in the fact of the global catastrophe we all face. Urgent action is needed to tackle climate change and spiralling energy prices caused by our addiction to increasingly expensive and insecure fossil fuels." "The G8 are crawling forward on emissions cuts at a time when giant leaps and bounds are needed," commented Peter Grant of Tearfund.

Brazil, India, China, South Africa and Mexico attended the G8 summit. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil, has urged developing countries to join the industrialized nations in setting greenhouse gas emissions targets. "All participants, including our country, should set a reduction target in accordance with their own emissions of greenhouse gases," da Silva said ahead of his attendance at the summit. India’s position is that industrialized countries should meet their own commitments rather than "pointing fingers at countries like India" and asking developing countries to limit their emissions, according to principal climate negotiator Shyam Saran.

The G8 communiqué underlined the need for all nations to contribute to the international response, stating that the "global challenge can only be met by a global response." Immediately after the summit, the G8 leaders met with eight other nations, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea and the Group of Five (G5) major developing economies, India, China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. These sixteen nations account, in total, for 80 per cent of global carbon emissions.

The sixteen nations agreed that "deep cuts in global emissions will be necessary to achieve the Convention's ultimate objective," but could not agree on actual targets. The G5 nations want to see the developed nations taking the lead in achieving "ambitious and absolute" greenhouse gas emission reductions, committing to an 80 to 95 per cent emissions cut below 1990 levels by 2050 and a mid-term target of a 25 to 40 per cent cut by 2020.

The next major stop on the road to Copenhagen will be in Accra, Ghana, in August 2008. There is concern about the human cost of the intense meeting schedule in the run-up to the Copenhagen deadline, with three months out of the next eighteen devoted to negotiating meetings.

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Updated: May 15th 2015