Just to give you a quick update on what the main issues at stake are here in Bonn, the UN climate talks 2011.
1. The extension of the Kyoto Protocol to a second commitment period after 2012.
Developing countries (LDC’s, AOSIS etc) are definitely in favour of a second commitment period, as they see the alternative being voluntary pledges with no legally binding obligations. This would mean we have no hope of reducing maximum temperature rise to 2 degrees C (or 1.5 degrees if we are being very hopeful). Unfortunately, some countries like Russia, Canada or Japan have said they would block a decision to renew the Kyoto Protocol. If we don’t renew KP, which took about 18 years to negotiate (despite it being very weak in commitments anyway), then we’re back to square one without any legally binding agreement. We cannot let this happen! The other alternative, suggested by the U.S, is ‘pledge and review’, a voluntary system of countries pledging emission reduction targets, set by individual countries, with no reference to whether the global reduction is sufficient to achieve maximum temperature rise of 2 degrees. The problem with pledge&review is that it is NOT legally binding, and there is no enforcement mechanism when a country fails to meet their targets.
2. There is no money for another intercessional meeting between now and COP17 in Durban. Countries aren’t keen to fund it because the last intercessional in Bankok consisted entirely of agenda discussions (!) and, until yesterday, so did Bonn…. Maybe next week the EU will commit the money. Christiana Figueres (the secretary general of the UNFCCC) urges countries to make a decision and said that unless money is being put forward by the 17th June, there will not be another meeting. After that date, the secretariat would not have enough time to prepare another meeting.
3. Current emissions reductions pledges are not good enough to ensure a maximum temperature rise of 2 degrees, never mind the 1.5 degrees threshold necessary to ensure the survival of all countries and all peoples. For example, Canada’s new emission reduction targets that they presented here are actually LESS than their previous ones (very poor ones anyway) from the Kyoto Protocol. According to a new report by the UNEP, even if all the pledges are met as promised (quite unlikely in itself), we are still emitting around 5 gigatonnes of more CO2 than allowed to stick to 2 degrees.
Overall, the atmosphere is indeed not very productive. Many of the discussions go on behind closed doors and some big blocking countries (like Saudi Arabia, which wants to be reimbursed for any losses in oil sales or Canada, which got three fossils yesterday) are holding things up. On the other site, all tracks now have finally opened and are meeting and we youth are fully involved in planning a campaign to call on countries to change the mood and raise the ambition!