As it happened: UN climate change talks in Bonn, closing session

– Updates by the RTCC team in London and Bonn
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Formal talks on UN climate change deal will ‘start in June’
– UN climate envoys hail momentum, but warn time running out
– Old splits emerge as UN climate envoys seek path to 2015 deal
– Yeb Sano: fasting makes me a better climate negotiator 

1812 – “That brings us to the end of speakers” says chair Kumarsingh. Says he’s inspired by statements this evening and hopes that the “constructive” atmosphere will continue in Bonn. So that’s the end of the March meeting of UN climate envoys aimed at developing a global climate agreement. What did we learn? Not loads, to be frank.

Countries are still working out their mitigation commitments, and the Green Climate Fund is not yet operational, so perhaps new announcements were too much to expect. Divisions between rich and poor remain, although the split is slightly more nuanced than those binary terms suggest. We’ll have further analysis and commentary next week – have a good weekend.

1805 – Here’s Nicaragua’s thoughts…in a tweet

1800 – The Philippines’ lead negotiator Yeb Sano has sent us his views on this week’s talks…in the form of a statement he read out earlier this week. Here are some excerpts…

This is a multilateral system that we all continue to have faith in and we can and must make this work. The stewards we have appointed to shepherd the process may be given a latitude for exercising decisive, even innovative, leadership, but again not at the expense of party-drivenness; We also emphasize that consensus, as it remains our basis for agreement, must likewise be understood as each party standing on equal footing, regardless of a country’s size and economic wealth, or responsibility to climate change, or mitigation potentials.  

We must restore faith in this process, because this is the only venue where all countries can engage. And the only international process that can truly address climate change. We may be putting this process in and out of intensive care, and as we discuss another difficult procedural obstacle, it would seem that we are all in agreement that the process needs some mending. 

I struggle to understand the reluctance to move into a mode of work that will ensure we are able to ensure party-drivenness and inclusiveness, that can capture our work with clarity. I also struggle to understand how there are evidently different interpretations of the word ‘progress’ as an overwhelming majority of Parties are concerned about the lack of progress.  

1756 – Here’s the AOSIS statement in full…

AOSIS closing statement in Bonn:

— Ambassador Moses (@AMBMoses) March 14, 2014

1751 – Here’s India on behalf of the BASIC group

Says nothing has been achieved in Bonn, just repetition of views from last two years. Needs ‘clearly structure formal groups’ for talks. Wants a clear plan of work to ensure delegations can prepare… and potential of technical expert meetings on ‘high mitigation areas’. Says contributions of ‘developing’ countries should be in the context of ‘sustainable development’ and will be on condition of richer nations meeting finance/tech commitments.

1750 – Former UN climate chief Yvo de Boer thinks EU is onto something…

1745 – Venezuela on behalf of Like Minded Group

Mutual trust are important, critical of role of chairs and lack of what she says is confusion. Need to start negotiating – only “formal and structured negotiation” can help. Need a clear work plan for what will be discussed in the ‘Contact Group’. Stresses the need for all parties to be involved.talks of Bali Action Plan and responsibilities of developing and developed countries.

1740 – Nepal on behalf of the Least Developed Countries

Success in this process needs ‘leadership’ from all parties, wants draft negotiation text work to be ‘accelerated’. Adaptation should get more support… 2015 agreement also needs ‘comparability of efforts’ from developed country parties. Effective ‘compliance system’ needs to be agreed for 2015 deal…means and rules of implementation (finance, tech, capacity building) vital

1732 – We’re rattling along…here’s Nauru on behalf of small island states (AOSIS)

Solutions are “within reach”, delegate says, calling for a new technical paper to be released at the June meeting in Bonn. Highlights the King tides that recently hit the Marshall Islands (more on that here) and wants clarity and transparency on mitigation commitments by June. Also calls for more work on ‘loss and damage’.

1727 – Sudan on behalf of the Africa Group

Says there’s an “effective platform” for pre-2020 ambition (finance + emission cuts) but warns UN needs to reassess mode of work….wants developed countries to raise emission cuts to 40% by 2020 on 1990 levels

1721 – Mexico on behalf of the Environmental Integrity Group

Says countries leave Bonn with a better understanding of visions, confident the process is moving forward. Believes 2015 agreement should not exacerbate social inequalities and environmental degradation.

1715 – Here’s the European Union

Focus on financial flows is vital… also important to emphasise EU will continue to deliver climate finance. All parties must act to hit 2C target, and all parties must respond to ‘evolving responsibilities’

1713 – Australia, speaking on behalf of the ‘Umbrella Group

Need more focus in June on the upfront information countries need to provide… wants to think about elements for text (based on views from parties) rather than a wider look at the whole text in one go.

1710 – ‘Party’ statements are starting with Bolivia… (this is paraphrased)

We should not lose sight of accelerating process… we have a duty to deliver a document that this process is committed to delivering agreements that will protect the earth. Need stricter negotiating structures to ensure it will be ready for adoption in Paris. Outcomes must be guided by the UNFCCC (convention) and be conducted in a manner than gives us confidence.

1705 – The ministerial dialogue on what a Paris 2015 climate change deal could look like will take place on Friday 6 June, starting at 10am. It will be preceded by a high level ministerial dialogue focused on Kyoto Protocol commitments, which will take place on Thursday 5 June.

1700 – The UN needs 1.5m Euros, because… it’s having another meeting in the third week of October. Possibly in Bonn.

1656 – Kumarsingh says it means a “text that is constructed collectively…”

1654 – So, this could get interesting. Veteran Philippines negotiator Bernarditas de Castro Muller has quite a few questions for the chairs…she says she doesn’t know what a ‘collectively constructed text’ or ‘party driven process’ means…


1650 – The first ‘contact group’ relating to the Paris 2015 deal will commence as soon as the first plenary at Bonn concludes. This will mark the start of official negotiations for the global climate change deal.

1645 – ADP co-chair Kishan Kumarsingh praises the application of negotiators at this week’s meeting, but warns that they are well behind schedule. Reminds parties and NGOs the process is “always open”.


1640 – The main plenary has started. This is where we find out what has been decided in the past week.

1628 – There will be a technical summary of the ‘Technical Expert Meetings’ on the UNFCCC website shortly says Runge-Metzger. The *main* plenary will start shortly…(just an hour late)

1615 – China’s Su Wei says technology and efficiency issues need to be treated more seriously by the UN, but stresses he does not want ‘Technical Expert Meetings’ to become a new process. He then starts talking about the Bali Action Plan and quoting a variety of sub clauses…making it slightly hard for everyone in the room to follow. Here’s CAN South Asia’s take…

1610 – Nepal, speaking on behalf of the ‘Least Developed Countries’, says it’s unclear what’s the point of renewable energy sessions as they don’t know how to take advantage of the technologies talked about. India’s delegate says he agrees with that argument, calling for clearer advice on funding and other forms of assistance ahead of June’s meeting in Bonn.

1605 – Representatives from small island states (AOSIS) say they want clear policy outcomes from the technical meetings in June – which can be fed into a ministerial session that will take place in Bonn.

1600 – South Africa’s delegate says this has been the most pleasant UN climate meeting he has been at, with “not one argument”. I’m not entirely sure where he has been…. (perhaps asleep for a week?)

1555 – The floor is now open to the parties…. Bangladesh’s Quamrul Choudhury says more focus needs to be directed towards what developing countries need at the June session of the UN talks: “there should be balanced participation from presenters, especially least developed countries,” he says.

1550 – Technology and support exists for countries to start working on emission reduction plans, says Artur Runge-Metzger, the co-chair of the ADP (path of talks aimed to developing a 2015 global climate deal). He says he’s encouraged by this week’s technical expert talks, and says these efforts need greater visibility.

1547 – June’s UNFCCC meeting should be “broadened” and involve cities, urban environment and lad use change – says UN official

1538 – “Governments should take a leading role in promoting energy efficiency at all levels”, the UN facilitator on energy efficiency tells the session. He says key policy tools include energy pricing, regulations, standards for buildings, appliances and buildings. All fairly straightforward – but there do remain huge gaps between what governments are doing and what could be done

1535 – More reflections on this week’s talks are popping into my inbox. Here are the views of Mattias Soderberg from the ACT Alliance

“Since the UN climate summit in Durban 2011, talks have been held through round tables, workshops and consultations. This dialogue has been important, but it is now time to move into concrete negotiations that can deliver the global agreement we need to jointly tackle climate change.”

1530 – The closing session has started, with reflections on this week’s meetings on energy efficiency and renewables. “There is no one-size fits all policy solution” chair Youba Sokona reminds the plenary session.

You can watch all of theses meetings and access slides on the UNFCCC website.

1525 – What’s evident is that there is no sign of the developed-developing ‘firewall’ burning out – just yet. Here’s ActionAid’s Harjeet Singh:

“It was concerning that rich industrialised nations continued to push a very narrow barrow here – talking about the future agreement as being only focused on emission cuts. It is obvious that people need a much more holistic approach if we are to keep people and our food systems safe.” 

1520 – This week’s meeting has taken place in Bonn’s World Conference Centre, the former home of the German Bundestag before the country’s east and west were reunified. The Parliament met in the room below from 1992-1999.



1515 – RTCC’s Sophie Yeo has been speaking to yeb Sano, the Phillipines’ lead envoy at these talks. He fasts twice a month in memory of the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which hit his country last November. He says those painful memories give him strength at these meetings

1510 – The UN’s climate chief Christiana Figueres has already released a statement on this week’s talks. It’s light on anything that was actually achieved (as you might expect), and underlines her desire for parties to work harder on building a consensus.

“We are now entering a serious and significant phase in the evolution of international, cooperative climate policy as we look towards both Lima and Paris. The next 9 months will require all nations to raise their eyes beyond business-as-usual in order to counter the threats and deliver the multiple opportunities from moving rapidly towards a cleaner, healthier, low carbon world.”

1505 – I’m Ed King and welcome to RTCC’s live blog of the closing session at UN climate talks in Bonn. It’s worth tuning in for as we’ll hear from all the main groups and parties involved in this week’s meeting, and get a sense of how successful they feel it has been.

This is the first of a series of meetings planned for 2014 that are designed to provide space for countries to work out how a global emissions reduction agreement could work. A draft text is expected at a larger UN summit in Lima, Peru, this December – so the clock is ticking.

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