Bonn Talks Focus on Agendas of the Subsidiary Bodies

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and Halldór Thorgeirsson, UNFCCC Secretariat17 June 2011: The UN Climate Change Conference June 2011 centered on the agendas of the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies during the first week, with agreement reached to launch work on some agenda items, while the Ad Hoc Working Groups made some progress on their agendas but recognized that much work remains before the Durban Climate Change Conference.

The Conference took place in Bonn, Germany, from 6-17 June 2011, and included the 34th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). It also comprised the second part of the 16th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the second part of the 14th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA).

The first week of the Conference centered on the agendas of the SBI and SBSTA. The provisional agendas of both bodies included new items based on parties' proposals and Decision 1/CP.16 (outcome of the AWG-LCA's work). Parties spent the first three days discussing the agendas and organization of work. They eventually agreed to launch work on some agenda items while holding most of the proposed new agenda items in abeyance pending further consultations. The SBSTA closing plenary agreed to consider, at its next session, the proposed new item on impacts of climate change on water and integrated water resources management under the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation. No agreement was reached on other proposed new items such as blue carbon and rights of nature and the integrity of ecosystems.

Under the SBI, work was launched on new items on national adaptation plans, and loss and damage, the consideration of which was mandated by the Cancun Agreements. Proposed new agenda items relating to measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) remained in abeyance, but related work was undertaken under the AWG-LCA. Proposed new items related to the impacts of the implementation of response measures also featured prominently in the agenda discussions. As a result, the SBI and SBSTA Chairs convened a forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures organized as a contact group.

The focus of the AWG-KP was on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol after the first commitment period expires at the end of 2012. Parties concentrated on outstanding political issues and conditionalities set by various Annex I countries for new commitments during a second commitment period. Despite initial opposition from developing countries, parties also undertook technical work on issues, including land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), the flexibility mechanisms and methodological issues. Progress made was captured in a revised proposal by the AWG-KP Chair (FCCC/KP/AWG/2011/CRP.1). Parties agreed to suspend AWG-KP 16 and resume it during an intersessional meeting to be scheduled in the Northern Autumn.

Under the AWG-LCA, substantive work began, for the first time, based on the Cancun Agreements and Decision 1/CP.16. Parties worked through a single contact group and informal groups on adaptation, finance, technology, review of the global long-term goal, legal options and diverse issues related to mitigation. While progress was made on some issues, many felt that the outcomes were relatively modest and a lot of work remains to be done before the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa.

Speaking on the final day of the Conference, Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, observed that the negotiations had made clear advances on key issues and identified areas that will require high-level political leadership ahead of Durban. She stated that the Kyoto Protocol remained critically important because it contained key rules to quantify and monitor efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and important market-based mechanisms that enable cost-effective mitigation. On the possibility of a looming regulatory gap between Kyoto commitment periods, she said: “Governments can double their efforts and come forward with middle ground solutions and options which are acceptable to all sides.”

Regarding implementation of Cancun's comprehensive package to support developing country actions on climate change, Figueres said the Bonn sessions had paved the way for progress at COP 17 at the end of this year. She informed that in the run-up to Durban, South Africa plans to engage at a higher political level to prepare for the decisions that need to be made at COP 17. Additionally, the incoming South African presidency and the current Mexican presidency are planning to engage Heads of State and Government on the margins of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, US, in September. [IISD RS Coverage of the Conference] [UNFCCC Press Release]