Daily TCK: UN Climate Talks open in Bonn, kicking off intense year of negotiations

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Day 1, Bonn Climate Talks

With UN Secretary General heralding 2014 as the year of “climate ambition”, it is expected to be the year climate change rockets back up to the global political agenda. For those negotiators who met in sunny Bonn Monday for the latest round of the UN climate talks, it’s crunch time.

Delegates from G-77/China in informal consultations before the start of negotiations Monday \ see more photos: IISD RS
Delegates from G-77/China in informal consultations before the start of negotiations Monday \ see more photos: IISD RS

Countries now have just 21 months before they are expected to agree a new global treaty on climate change – with all countries, big and small, expected to agree a draft treaty by this december and put pledges for action on the table before the first quarter of 2015. Success will mean countries reaching a common understanding of how individual components of the new agreement will operate, while they’re in Bonn this week – addressing issues including mitigation, adaptation, finance to name a few.

In this morning’s opening plenary, Philippines lead negotiator Yeb Sano summed up the current position of countries saying that over the last year “divergences and convergences have emerged” and that over the next year governments must work to “expand the convergences and limit the divergences”.For example, while the EU and US proposals on a 2015 agreement have both called for transparent, quantifiable and comparable climate targets, the two countries have drawn dividing red lines on the structure of the agreement – the EU calling for new legally-binding protocol and the US calling for a weaker legal form.Meanwhile, China has set itself on a collision course with both these countries by calling for developed countries to commit to short-term emissions reductions of 40% by 2020 on 1990. And in this morning’s opening session many of the world’s most vulnerable nations set out their vision of a treaty with equity at its heart and with a balanced approach to mitigation and adaptation.

Monday also included a workshop with expert presentations on renewable energy, which will be a focus of the talks throughout the week.
As negotiators debate the merits of individual components of the new agreement, the climate challenge  and its stakes grow increasingly clear. Most people will remember last year’s climate talks opening in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan’s destruction in the Philippines. As negotiators come together in Germany, the recent floods in the UK; snowstorms in the northeast US; drought ravaging BrazilAustralia and ASEAN economies; and King Tides engulfing the Marshall Islands should be etched on the minds of those sitting in the negotiating hall.With government’s continuing to count the costs of such extreme weather – Bangladesh’s lead negotiator Quamrul Choudhury warned that the country needs $5 billion over the next five years to adapt to climate impacts and that the costs are rising with each year of inaction – countries are waking up to the costs of climate inaction.There is nowhere for governments to hide this year. While extreme weather around the world is once again rising climate change in the minds of electorates back home, the international stage is set for climate action.

While in the US campaigners are calling for President Obama to live up to his promises on climate change – with rumours his administration is looking at higher emissions reduction targets– in Europe the spotlight is on ministers as they debate the EU’s climate and energy policy to 2030.

Meanwhile on the international stage, as world leaders will be expected to deliver new climate action commitments at the UN Secretary General’s climate summit in September.

With the clock ticking on government’s 2015 deadline, it is time for them to stop dawdling and start delivering; and that must start here in Bonn.

From our partners

For a round-up on all of the opening statements from the country groupings at this mornings plenary sessions, RTCC live-blogged the event, and published a piece based on interviews with seven top negotiators.

For more on country position and what is needed out of the talks, check out CAN’s first ECO of the conference.

From elsewhere on the interwebs

The IISD published a photo gallery of pics from in negotiating halls Monday.

Yvo de Boer, the UN’s chief climate diplomat before Christiana Figueres, warns that this week’s talks in Bonn should focus on implementing low carbon technologies rather than discussions of the science and quarrels over policy

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