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UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn sees concrete progress toward new agreement and speeding up climate action

Jun 15, 2013 - 10:03 -

WAM Bonn, June 15th, 2013 - The UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, ended on Friday after making concrete progress towards a new universal climate change agreement and on creating solutions to increase existing global action to deal with climate change.

The "Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action" (ADP), tasked to design the new agreement and to raise near-term global ambition to deal with climate change, was meeting for the second time this year.

"Over the past 12 months, solid foundations have been laid under the process both toward the 2015 agreement and in raising pre-2020 ambition. As a result of the constructive and flexible engagement amongst governments, nations now have a clearer idea of how to move to achieve demonstrable progress at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Poland and beyond" the Co-Chairs of the group, Jayant Moreshver Mauskar and Harald Dovland said in a joint statement.

A key focus of the ADP negotiation in Bonn was on how to transform the world's energy systems quickly enough towards low-carbon, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and the consideration of carbon capture and storage.

"This has been an important meeting because governments are moving faster now from the stage of exploring options to designing and implementing solutions. Governments are demonstrating increasingly broad support for this energy transformation. It is achievable with existing financial and technology resources, encourages best efforts by all countries without shifting the leadership responsibility of developed countries to respond to climate change, and mobilizes and speeds action at all levels - international, domestic and private sector," said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.

An immediate need recognized by all governments is how climate finance can shift investment patterns faster toward low carbon. In Bonn, governments examined key elements for such a shift, including reducing investment risk for investors, public-private partnerships, a long-term legally binding agreement and strong domestic institutions to deal effectively with finance in countries which receive support.

"The record greenhouse gas concentrations we now see in the atmosphere are due to past investment patterns and the policies and profit motives behind them. To prevent our atmosphere turning permanently against us requires a continued, faster shift in those investment patterns and the policies and price signals that drive them," said Ms Figueres.

In Bonn, governments also looked in greater detail at how the rules of the new agreement, which is to be decided by 2015 and come into effect in 2020, have to be designed to encourage countries to do their best to act on climate change in the longer term. This includes views on how transparency and accountability should be reflected in the 2015 agreement, including a possible process to asses and adjust national efforts to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. There was a strong sense that internationally agreed rules to ensure transparency of increased actions and commitments are needed up front.

They also examined specific means to increase finance, technology and capacity-building for developing countries, and how this can link to the 2015 agreement. In this context, they heard a series of reports from new institutions, including the Green Climate Fund, on how the infrastructure is starting to take shape and deliver results.

Detailed and productive technical discussions took place under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Progress was made on ways to protect the world's forests, the role of agriculture in responding to climate change and reporting guidelines (see below for a further detailed summary of outcomes).

The work of the SBI body, tasked to give advice to the Conference of the Parties (COP), the UNFCCC's decision-making body on all matters concerning the implementation of the Convention, had been earlier suspended without governments formally adopting an agenda for the body's work at this two-week session. The SBI is scheduled to have a final plenary on Friday.

"The delay in the SBI has not stopped progress in the rest of the meeting, " said UNFCCC's Christiana Figueres. "I now strongly encourage all sides to reach a mutually agreeable solution to this issue as soon as possible," she said.