Bonn Talks Make Progress on Technical Issues but Disagree on Work on Implementation

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and SBI Chair Thomasz Chruszczow, Poland, at the closing plenary of SBI 3817 June 2013: The UN Climate Change Conference, which took place in Bonn, Germany, centered on technical issues under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), as well as on the 2015 agreement and pre-2020 mitigation under the resumed session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP). Work on implementation was stalled due to lack of agreement on the agenda of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).

The Bonn Conference, which took place from 3-14 June 2013, included the 38th sessions of the SBI and the SBSTA, as well as the resumed second session of the ADP (ADP 2-2).

SBI 38 was characterized by an agenda dispute concerning a proposal by the Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine to introduce a new item on legal and procedural issues related to decision making under the Conference of the Parties (COP) and Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). The proposal, they clarified, was presented due to their dissatisfaction with the decision making process at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, in 2012. While recognizing the importance of the issue, other parties opposed considering it as a new SBI agenda item. Instead, a proposal was made to consider the issue as part of the SBI agenda item on arrangements for intergovernmental meetings. This was unacceptable to the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Belarus. As no solution to the dispute was found, the SBI was unable to launch substantive work during its two-week session in Bonn. Many delegates were disappointed with the outcome and concerned about the implications for COP 19 and CMP 9, scheduled to take place in Warsaw, Poland, in November 2013. Commenting on the impact of the incident under the SBI, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres noted that “the delay in the SBI has not stopped progress in the rest of the meeting," and “strongly" encouraged "all sides to reach a mutually agreeable solution to this issue as soon as possible.”

SBSTA 38 had a busy agenda and swiftly began working through it. The various SBSTA negotiating groups were allocated more negotiating time slots than usual given that no substantive negotiations formally took place under the SBI. SBSTA 38 achieved what many saw as good progress, inter alia, on REDD+, agriculture and several methodological issues.

The resumed ADP 2 was structured around workshops and roundtables on Workstream 1 (2015 agreement) and Workstream 2 (pre-2020 ambition). No agreement was reached on establishing one or more contact groups to move part of the work to a more formal setting. Many, however, felt that switching to a negotiating mode will be important to ensure that the ADP makes progress in future sessions. The last day of the meeting, Figueres highlighted that "This has been an important meeting because governments are moving faster now from the stage of exploring options to designing and implementing solutions. Governments are demonstrating increasingly broad support for this energy transformation." [IISD RS Coverage of the Bonn Talks] [UNFCCC Press Release] [UNFCCC Meeting Updates]