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Bonn Talks Focus on Implementing the Durban Outcome

25 May 2012: The first official UNFCCC negotiating session of 2012, after the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) held in Durban, South Africa, took place in Bonn, Germany, from 14 to 25 May 2012. It comprised the 36th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the 15th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), the 17th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP).

Under the SBI, key issues discussed included loss and damage, national adaptation plans (NAPs), and reporting by Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. SBSTA focused on agriculture, research and systematic observation, and methodological guidance on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks). Technology and response measures were considered under both the SBI and SBSTA.

Under the AWG-KP, the focus was on issues that need to be finalized to adopt a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and for the AWG-KP to conclude its work at the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 8). These include: matters relating to quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives (QELROs) with a view to adopting these as amendments to Annex B to the Kyoto Protocol and carry-over of assigned amount units (AAUs). While discussions under the AWG-KP advanced understanding of these issues, many outstanding questions remain, including the length of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and carry-over of surplus units.

Under the AWG-LCA, Parties initially debated the agenda and whether it adequately reflected progress since the adoption of the Bali Action Plan at COP 13 in 2007. After agreement on the agenda, debates continued on which issues require consideration so that the AWG-LCA can finalize its work at COP 18 in Doha. Developed countries stressed “significant progress” and the various new institutions established in Cancun and Durban. They called for a focus on specific tasks mandated by Decision 2/CP.17 (Outcome of the work of the AWG-LCA). Developing countries identified the need to continue discussing issues, such as finance, technology, adaptation, capacity building and response measures in order to fulfill the mandate in the Bali Action Plan.

Under the ADP, discussions centered on the agenda and election of officers. After nearly two weeks of discussions, the ADP plenary adopted the agenda and agreed on the election of officers during the final day of the conference. On that regard, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said the agreed agenda “guarantees that attention is given both to the 2015 agreement, as well as to efforts to raise ambition to curb greenhouse gases (GHG) up to 2020. This is a very important component of the Durban Platform and a response to what science is telling us on a repeated basis, namely that current mitigation efforts are not sufficient.”

At the close of the Bonn Conference, many felt that the atmosphere had been “tense,” especially under the ADP. They expressed hope that this would not have a lasting impact, putting at risk efforts to rebuild trust in the process over the past two years since Copenhagen and the “delicate balance” of interests reflected in the Durban Package. On the ADP future work, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres highlighted the need to keep working in a spirit of mutual respect and collegiality and congratulated parties for “having taken the first of many footsteps of this journey.” [IISD RS Coverage] [UNFCCC Press Release]