Work on 2015 climate deal set to start in Bonn

By Ed King

UN talks to construct a legally binding climate change deal are set to start on April 29, amid warnings from scientists that greenhouse gas emissions are rising too far, too fast.

Organisers say the ‘scope, structure and design’ of a 2015 emissions agreement will be discussed during the week-long negotiations involving 195 countries.

Financial commitments and the ambition of emission targets for developed and developing nations are likely to dominate the meeting.

“The discussions in Bonn and throughout this year are crucial to preparing the upcoming 2015 agreement and to raising ambition, using the implementation of current agreements under the UNFCCC as a basis,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.

Countries agreed the ‘Doha Gateway’ at the 2012 round of UN climate talks – including an extension to the Kyoto Protocol (Pic: UNFCCC)

The meeting comes at a delicate time for international climate policymakers.

Proposed reforms to the EU emission trading scheme – the largest on the planet – were rejected by the Union’s Parliament, sending carbon prices plummeting.

Clean energy investment in the first quarter of 2013 was down 22% on 2012 according to figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

And the latest Carbon Tracker report says there is a $674 billion ‘bubble’ of investments in fossil fuels spread across the world, indicating business and governments are still focused on a high carbon future.


Despite these gloomy projections, indications from India, China and the Least Developed Country bloc that they would consider emission targets offer grounds for optimism.

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent round of climate diplomacy in China, Japan and South Korea also suggests one of the main ‘blockers’ at the talks could be keen to start afresh.

The UN say this round of talks will help frame discussions and provide a ‘framework’ for future talks, which are likely to be more frequent and more intense as 2015 approaches.

“It is important to begin to identify the elements of the broader package surrounding the 2015 agreement that will ensure it is acceptable to all and can be implemented from 2020,” co-chair Harald Dovland said.

“This year, governments are expected to move from a conceptual phase to a content-forming phase in preparation for a ‘text-forming’ stage in 2014.”

Short term efforts to cut emissions and provide help to poorer states between now and 2015 are likely to feature.

Climate vulnerable states claim rich nations have not fulfilled their funding obligations under the Convention, with some observers branding a recent US climate finance summit as a ‘dog and pony’ show.

Discussions on the controversial loss and damage mechanism, Green Climate Fund, Climate Technology Centre & Network and Adaptation Committee are likely to continue throughout the year.

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