August 10, 2009

Bonn Talks the Next Step in the Long Road to Copenhagen

From August 10 – 14, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex Parties under the Kyoto Protocol and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention, an informal working group of climate negotiators, will be holding talks in Bonn, Germany in the run-up to the Copenhagen Round in December. While the Bonn talks are unlikely to lead to any significant breakthroughs, they are an important step in the process of preparing negotiators for the final talks in Copenhagen. The following is intended to provide a brief recap of recent climate talks, including what emerged from this year’s G8 meeting, the Major Economies Forum, and the results of Secretary of State Clinton’s trip to India and Secretary of Energy Chu’s recent trip to China:

The G8 and Major Economies Forum

  • The outcomes from the G8 meeting and Major Economies Forum (MEF) have been addressed somewhat ambiguously. The White House has publicly offered what could best be described as cautious optimism, while the press has been a bit more suspect of the results. The UN’s top climate change official Yvo de Boer told Reuters in July that the negotiations “haven’t given me a huge rush of adrenalin.”
  • At the MEF, developed and developing nations agreed that global temperatures should not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above 1900 levels, which, if adhered to, would inherently force emissions cuts.
  • G8 nations set an aspirational goal of cutting overall emissions by 80% by 2050.
  • However, developing countries refused to even accept targets of cutting emissions by 50% by 2050 (they did accept the 2 degree Celsius temperature rise cap).
  • Russia and Canada also expressed a bit of trepidation at the goal.
  • Most agreed that the negotiations were a good first step and established that while every state agreed on the problem, they could not agree on a solution.

Negotiations with India

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with India’s environment and forests minister, Jairam Ramesh on 19 July. Ramesh flatly rejected calls for India to reduce its emissions, saying that there was “no case” for India to reduce CO2 emissions given that it has very low emissions on a per capita basis.
  • India is also upset over the prospect of facing tariffs under the Waxman-Markey Bill, which threatens to impose trade penalties on countries that do not accept emissions cuts.
  • India did agree to the G8’s “aspirational” goal of capping the rise in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius
  • India also claimed to be committed to reaching an agreement in Copenhagen despite its opposition to binding targets and promised to cooperate with the United States on green technology.

Negotiations with China

What’s Next?

  • Following the informal session in Bonn, Germany, there will be 2 more meetings on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change leading up to the Copenhagen Round in December.
  • There will be a 28 September-9 October meeting in Bangkok.
  • The final meeting before Copenhagen will be 2-6 November in Barcelona.