As it happened: UN climate change summit opens in Bonn

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1232 – That concludes the opening plenary from this week’s UN meeting in Bonn. I think it’s fair to say nothing groundbreaking emerged, bar a strong push from a large group of developing countries to move the talks into a more ‘formal’ setting of contact groups. There still appears to be a considerable divide between rich and poor, but then these high level segments can be slightly misleading, given how reluctant individual countries are to reveal their cards too early.

You can download a full agenda for this week’s talks here, and we’ll have further coverage in Bonn throughout this week from RTCC’s Sophie Yeo, who’s on her way there now.

1223 – A few other countries are now making submissions. Turkey and Kuwait threw their toys when told there was no time for national submissions (which were covered within the ‘groups’), emphasising just how tough this process is for the chairs, who always run the risk of creating a diplomatic incident by ignoring someone.

1205 – Assad Rehman from Friends of the Earth UK:

Warns negotiators how they will be judged… “to meet this test you must drastically scale up your work”, says it is “indefensible” that chairs have not moved into formal negotiations on a 2015 deal. Says a vision to limit warning to below 1.5C vital.

1202 – Here’s Norine Kennedy from the United States Council for International Business

She wants the 2015 deal to “encourage innovation” and involve developing countries in boosting their economies through low carbon investment. Praises Polish Presidency for opening informal talks with business during the Warsaw UN summit last November.

1201 – We are going to hear from ‘observer organisations’, starting with business lobby groups…you can watch this all on the UNFCCC webcast.

1200 – Country statements will be placed on the website due to ‘matters of time’.

1149 – Columbia on behalf of AILAC group (Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Perú, Guatemala and Panamá)

Small dig at Russia – doesn’t want any long debates over ‘process’. Talks must be ‘rational, flexible and efficient’. Leadership on mitigation must come from ‘developed’ countries. Stresses need for new focus on loss and damage, and ‘means of implementation’ (finance).

1144 – Venezuela on behalf of the ALBA group (Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba)

Developed countries must offer new and clear mitigation goals before anyone else. Need a roadmap for financing, mitigation and adaptation. Need a more ‘structured way of working’ and inclusive process (they want a contact group too). Wants the co-chairs to ‘re-right the ship’ and focus on the clear principles of the convention.

1134 – India on behalf of BASIC group (Brazil, South Africa, India and China)

Backs statement from G77 + China. Says equity and CBDR must be respected, and any 2015 agreement should strengthen that. Says contributions from developed countries require urgent work; also wants formal negotiations for a draft text (contact group format) to start now. Developed countries must ‘honour commitments’ on finance, technology and economy-wide contributions. “Not acceptable that the commitments of developed countries should be transferred to developing.”

1128 – Saudi Arabia on behalf of the 22-strong Arab group

Aligns itself with G77+ China group. Believes emission cuts must be made along with national priorities. Equality and equity are central. Believes new legally binding instrument should be embedded in domestic laws and needs strong measuring and reporting instrument. ‘Means of support’ for developing countries needs to be clarified. Stresses ‘historical responsibility’ of climate change.

1121 – Philippines on behalf of ‘Like Minded Developing Countries’

This is Yeb Sano talking… (remember his powerful address in Warsaw?) …says Equity and principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) must be the bedrock of any deal. Rich nations cannot be allowed to ‘escape’ from commitments. Wants an open ‘contact group’ for talks on a 2015 deal. This should be the basis for the 2015 text. Repeats China’s demand for developed countries to cut emissions 40% on 1990 levels by 2020.

1113 – Nepal on behalf of Least Developed Countries

Warns timeline for delivering pledges for 2015 global treaty is ‘too late’ and wants delivery of actions ‘by end of 2014’. Stresses financial support for clean energy and adaptation is ‘essential’.

1106 – Nauru on behalf of AOSIS

Says 2014 a special year as it’s the international year of small island states. Warns opportunity to address climate impacts may be “irrevocably lost” unless something is done before 2020. Welcomes focus on renewables and energy efficiency as areas of high opportunity. Says Paris deal must be a ‘legally binding protocol… based on science and limiting global warming to below 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

1100 – Sudan on behalf of the Africa group

Supports positions of G77 + China. Calls for a contact group where discussions can be officially recorded. Says this is the ‘ultimate building block’ for combating climate impacts. Wants a technical paper identifying incentives and opportunities from climate deal.

1052 – Switzerland on behalf of the ‘EIG group’

Wants focus to be on ADP workstream 1 (the 2015 agreement). Says meeting should advance common understanding of 2015 outcome, information that needs to be provided, and help all to unlock opportunities to cut emissions before 2020. EIG concerned about lack of work in Green Climate Fund and urges all members to accelerate work.

1047 – Australia on behalf of the ‘Umbrella group’

Calls for an ‘ambitious, inclusive and durable agreement’ – repeating almost verbatim the USA’s submission to the UN. Says countries have been looking at how they can reduce emissions at home, and help others. Says a ‘binary approach’ to differentiation “will not work”, emphasising importance of moving on from original classifications of ‘developed’ and ‘developing’.

1045 – Greece on behalf of the EU

EU statement is quite technical (like its submission to the UN). Stresses political leadership is essential this year, especially through the June UNFCCC session, Ban Ki-moon’s meeting in September and the main summit in Lima later this year.

1035 – Bolivia on behalf of the G77 + China.

Says countries need to move beyond an exchange of ideas… concerned about lack of adaptation in our discussions – urges parties to take this on board. Calls on developed countries to make higher emission reduction contributions by 2014, “with a view of closing the ambition gap by 2020″. Maintains developing countries have made a greater contribution to cutting emissions than developed.

1034 – Statements from parties are about to start…

1031 – Runge-Metzger stresses a text needs to be ready by November so countries understand what needs to be done to close the “ambition gap”. He adds there will be further discussions this week on the voluntary cancellation of Certified Emission Reduction credits (CERs) without double counting (there’s a briefing on Thursday @ 1pm).

1025 – Here’s why China might be interested in these talks…


1015 – Artur Runge-Metzger: “This session is an important step in the process…ADP needs to advance in elaboration of 2015 agreement…negotiation text by Lima.” Stresses importance of domestic contributions and opportunities to realise “pre-2020 ambition”. ADP needs a second session in second half of 2014 – and this will take place this October in Bonn.

1010 – UN climate chief Christiana Figueres says she hopes inspiring examples of “concrete action” will be on display this week. Hopes renewable energy and efficiency technologies will be top of agenda. Adds that “you are not walking alone”, stresses conversations with military forces, city leaders, youth and NGOs. “Use the support from non state actors as wind in your sails,” she says, adding she is confident envoys “will use this opportunity”.

1004 – Ok – we’re started….chair Artur Runge-Metzger hopes the talks can be characterised by a “positive spirit”

0951 – We’re hearing the delay could have been caused by the G77 having some internal discussions. Perhaps connected to China’s rather lively thoughts on the UN process, submitted last week

0936 – Philippines envoy Yeb Sano (who we’ll hear more from later this week) tweets

0927 – According to the UN…

0925 – While we wait for the talks to commence, it’s worth reflecting on how tough this set of talks are. I’ve been speaking to seven top negotiators and asking them what makes this such a challenging forum. Here are the views of Venezuela’s Claudia Salerno:

“This is not an environmental agreement,” she tells RTCC. “It’s one of the largest most ambitious economic arrangements for the world and for the next century. This is by far the most important process the world will face in this century and the next.” 

0919 – So, a solid start here in Bonn.

0916 – If you’re wondering, ADP stands for “The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)”. It’s a stream of talks focused on developing a global climate change deal to be agreed in 2015, and come into force by 2020. Countries have agreed to have a draft text ready by December this year (when the 2014 climate summit takes place in Lima, Peru) and to deliver their emission reduction pledges by March 2015. So there’s a clear, and quite tough, deadline here.

0912 – So, while we wait for the UN to sort out their webcast (or find the delegates and get this show started), let’s run through some basics. This is why UN climate chief Christiana Figueres thinks this meeting is important:

“We are at the highest level of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere for the last 800,000 years and we have not yet started to bend that curve back down again – this is the urgency of the challenge. Just as climate change impacts are accelerating, 2014 needs to be a year of accelerated action and ambition to check the advance of climate change. Governments and business, cities and citizens are closer than ever to achieving the positive tipping points in economies and societies that get us to a low – carbon, high resilience future. We now need to fully harness those opportunities and that momentum”

0900 – We’re still waiting for the UN webcast link to go live. As soon as it does, coverage will start…while you’re waiting, follow the #ADP2015 hashtag on twitter for updates from delegates

0845 (GMT) – I’m RTCC, editor Ed King, and welcome to RTCC’s live coverage of the opening day of UN climate talks in Bonn. The main plenary session lasts from 0900-1200 and we’ll bring you updates and analysis throughout that time. Reporter Sophie Yeo is in Bonn for RTCC this week and will be speaking to key envoys to establish how they see plans for a global emissions reduction deal shaping up.

This week's UN meeting takes place in the German Parliament's old HQ in Bonn (Pic: UNFCCC)

This week’s UN meeting takes place in the German Parliament’s old HQ in Bonn (Pic: UNFCCC)

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