European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has called for United Nations negotiations starting this Sunday (29 March) to make tangible progress towards an ambitious new global agreement to combat climate change. The meeting, taking place in Bonn, Germany until 8 April, marks the first round of negotiations since last December’s U.N. climate conference in Poznań, Poland, which agreed to move the process into 'full negotiation mode.' The new global agreement, which would take effect in 2013, is due to be concluded at the Copenhagen U.N. climate conference in December. “With less than nine months left until Copenhagen, it is imperative that the Bonn meeting maximise areas of agreement, reduces areas of disagreement and builds common ground so that negotiations can make concrete progress,” Commissioner Dimas said. “Over the past two months the EU has set out a comprehensive vision for the Copenhagen agreement. We now look to our partners to support our positions or to propose constructive alternatives.”
The road to Copenhagen
U.N. negotiations to draw up a global climate agreement for the period after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol’s emission targets expire, began a year ago. Four meetings were held in 2008. The Bonn meeting is the first of three scheduled negotiating sessions at official level this year to prepare the Copenhagen conference in December. It is also the first session since President Obama, who has pledged U.S. leadership in tackling climate change, took office in January.
The negotiations are following two parallel tracks. One addresses long-term cooperative action under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to which the U.S. is a Party. The other focuses on drawing up post-2012 commitments on greenhouse gas emissions for developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. has not ratified.
Discussions under the UNFCCC track will be based on a document which sets out the components for an agreement, based on proposals and ideas put forward by Parties. This document, drawn up by the chair of the negotiations under this track, is intended to give focus to the negotiating process by describing areas of convergence, exploring options for addressing areas of divergence and identifying gaps that need to be filled before agreement can be reached. The outcome of the negotiations will inform a first draft of the Copenhagen agreement which is due to be tabled in time for the next negotiating session in June.
The negotiations on further emission commitments for developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol will address a list of issues identified by the Poznań conference. These include the scale of the emission reductions to be achieved by developed countries as a group, the contributions of individual Parties to this target, and the length of the period over which the reductions are to be achieved. The negotiations will be informed by pre-session consultations or workshops on the scale of emission reductions needed, the future of Kyoto's market mechanisms and rules for taking account of land use and forestry in calculating emissions.
Based on a Communication adopted by the Commission in late January (see IP/09/141 and MEMO/09/34), the EU has set out a comprehensive position on the Copenhagen agreement in a series of Council conclusions, most notably those adopted by the 2 March Environment Council and the Presidency conclusions of the European Council of 19-20 March. The European Parliament has also contributed through an own-initiative report (IP/09/211).
The EU's objective is to prevent average global warming from reaching 2°C or more above the pre-industrial temperature (around 1.2°C above today's temperature) since there is strong scientific evidence that the risk of irreversible and possibly catastrophic environmental changes will become far greater beyond this threshold.
The EU proposes that developed countries as a group reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 and that developing countries, particularly the big emerging economies, should limit the growth in their collective emissions to 15-30% below business as usual levels by the same deadline.
The EU recognises that developed countries will need to substantially scale up public and private sector financial support to help developing countries limit their emissions growth and adapt to climate change, and is ready to take on its fair share in this respect. An important role is also foreseen for an expanded international carbon market in helping to limit and reduce emissions at least cost.
EU press briefings in Bonn
The EU ‘troika’, comprising the current Czech presidency, the European Commission and the forthcoming Swedish presidency, will hold press conferences in Bonn at 14.30 on Sunday 29 March and at 12.00 on Wednesday 8 April. Both will take place in the Hotel Maritim, where the negotiations will be held.
DG ENV site on future action on climate change: