New Global Climate Change Accord Crucial

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Bonn Climate Change Conference - May 2012 By Eva Weiler
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

BONN (IDN) - Defining the path for a new global climate change agreement is one of the five crucial areas in which progress needs be made in 2012, according to ministers and high-level officials who gathered for an informal meeting on May 4-5 in Bonn, the seat of the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which, with 195 countries, has near universal membership.

Equally important is the need for amending the Kyoto Protocol at the global climate change conference in Doha, Qatar, from November 26 to December 7, 2012 so that it can continue as of the beginning of 2013, participants of the Bonn informal meeting agreed.

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the UNFCCC. Its major feature is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.

The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so.

Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities."

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on December 11, 1997 and entered into force on February 16, 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the 'Marrakesh Accords'.

The ministers and high-level officials from 32 countries also agreed on the need to clarify emission reduction pledges and accounting arrangements outside of the Kyoto Protocol for the period up to 2020; completing the final steps to operationalize the adaptation and technology institutions to help enhance developing country action; and advancing on long-term climate finance.

The informal Bonn gathering took note that one of the central outcomes of the meeting at Durban, South Africa, end of 2011, was to pave the way for a legal agreement under the UN Climate Convention applicable to all Parties, to be completed by 2015 and to come into effect from 2020.

According to the UNFCCC secretariat, the two-day informal ministerial meeting in Bonn focussed on "what needs to be done in the near future and over the next four years to ensure that this and other key decisions that emerged from the Durban conference are effectively implemented, in order to bridge the gap between what governments have committed to up to now and what action is required to make the world climate-resilient."

Participants heard a presentation on how to bridge this gap by the UN Environment Programme's chief scientist, Professor Joseph Alcamo, who both pointed to the dire risks resulting from staying on a business as usual emissions pathway and the fact that staving off the worst impacts of climate change is both technically and economically achievable.

"The Durban conference resulted in one of the most encompassing and furthest reaching outcomes in the history of the climate change negotiations. It is essential that the momentum is maintained, and I see a strong willingness amongst governments to provide the necessary strong, high-level political leadership," said Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and President of the Durban UN Climate Change Conference (COP17/ CMP7).

"At the same time, all governments share the sense that equity needs to be a central component of the future climate change regime," she added.

Speaking to the participants the COP President said: "Let me also remind you that as we build towards the future, we must remain seized with implementing the agreements that have been made on the Green Climate Fund, Finance, Adaptation, Technology and Capacity Building. The key focus area must still remain: implementation, implementation and implementation now."

"Science warns that governments need to urgently, decisively and tangibly reduce emissions,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. "Fortunately, this is economically feasible and technically attainable. But it clearly depends on ambitious reduction efforts in industrialized countries, and on a sufficient level of ambition to support action by developing countries. So we also need to see the speedy operationalization of the Green Climate Fund and the Technology Mechanism," she said.

At COP 17 in Durban, governments noted with "grave concern" the significant gap between countries’ current pledges to curb emissions and what is required to limit the increase of global average temperatures to at the most 2 degrees Celsius. Because of this, they agreed to undertake a work plan to close the gap between what has already been pledged and what is required to meet this goal.

The launch of the new negotiation to shape the new global climate change agreement and first discussions on how to raise ambition will take place at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn from May 14 to 25, 2012, which is designed to prepare decisions for adoption at the UN Climate Change Conference in Qatar. [IDN-InDepthNews – May 05, 2012]

2012 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

Picture: Bonn Climate Change Conference - May 2012 | Credit: UNFCCC

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