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What’s going Bonn?

Cross-posted from The Great Beyond

unfccc.bmpThis week’s UN hosted climate change talks in Bonn, Germany, are well underway. According to New Scientist this climate summit is “more important than the G20”.

So what’s going on in Bonn?

This meeting is the first of five sessions leading up to what the UN says will be an “ambitious and effective international climate change deal” to be finalised in Copenhagen in December (pdf). The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has already started its ‘countdown to Copenhagen’ timer.

However, as Reuters pointed out on Wednesday, delegates from 175 nations even managed to argue about what they were arguing about. The question is whether they should come up with a ‘treaty’, a ‘protocol’ an ‘agreement’, a ‘deal’, or a ‘decision’ to succeed the Kyoto protocol.

The first two would imply something legally binding, says the news wire, while the last would be non-binding. “It certainly has big legal implications,” Yvo de Boer, head of the UNFCCC, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Whatever the eventual wording is, developing nations think the more developed world should be trying harder. “We believe that by 2020 the [developed nations] should reduce their emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels,” says Chinese delegate Xu Huaqing (Reuters).

Current US plans are much less ambitious than this, points out the BBC, being merely to limit emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

“It is not the point in time in 2020 that matters – it is a long-term trajectory against which the science measures cumulative emissions,” says Jonathan Pershing, head of the US delegation. “The president has also announced his intent to pursue an 80% reduction by 2050.”


This hasn’t gone down well with some other players. Germany’s environment minister Sigmar Gabriel told a Berlin radio station that, “even under Barack Obama, the US has insufficient climate protection goals, at least as far as the international community is concerned” (AFP).

Video: Yvo de Boer briefs the media on 29 March.

Daniel Cressey

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