UN Climate Talks Bonn, Germany Media Release

Mar 30, 2009 - 12:22pm

Australian and international negotiators have converged on Germany for the next round of formal climate change talks which aim to lay the foundations for a global agreement at the UN’s landmark conference in Copenhagen in December. The Bonn talks, from the 29th March to the 8th of April, mark the beginning of the move to “full negotiating mode” and the first appearance of the new US administration’s climate change team.

The focus of talks will be on two documents (one short and one more detailed) that have been prepared describing areas where governments “converge” on ideas and proposals. The documents also explore options for dealing with areas where governments “diverge” and identify gaps that may need to be filled in order to reach agreement in Copenhagen.

The formal discussion of these documents will lead to new document in June that will form the basis of the formal agreement scheduled to be signed in December.

A number of key issues to be discussed formally and in the corridors in Bonn are:

  1. Emission reduction targets: Debate will focus on what level of emission reductions industrialised countries like Australia will take on in Copenhagen. Most countries continue to support aggregate emissions from industrialised countries being reduced by minus 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.  The EU has suggested this aggregate target should be a 30 per cent reduction while China and many other developing countries have suggested that this aggregate target should be “at least” 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

    As a party to both the Kyoto Protocol and the Climate Convention, Australia will be in the centre of this discussion. Australia has not nominated what the aggregate target should be, offering instead a maximum of 15 per cent cuts by 2020.

    Since the last time industrialised targets were formally discussed , Australia has released a White Paper that concludes that stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations at 450 parts per million (equivalent) or lower is in the “national interest”. Given the 25 to 40 percent reductions that are being discussed are based on what the scientific community says is required to meet this national interest goal, where Australia lands in this discussion on aggregate targets will be keenly watched.

    There will also be discussion of a mid-century global goal for greenhouse gas emissions. Proposed goals range from minus 50 per cent to minus 85 per cent reductions by 2050. There also is expected to be focus on defining a goal for peaking global emissions within 15 years and the emissions reduction ambitions that will be required by developing countries like China, Brazil and South Africa to meet this.

  2. Financing developing country emission reductions: Ensuring developing countries have the means to shift to low-carbon development pathways and adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change will require an investment of trillions of dollars over the coming decades. Given the scale of investment needed, it will be necessary for the international community to put in place a suite of measures to scale-up public funding and to facilitate greater private sector investment. Critical discussions in Bonn will continue to focus on how the international community establishes at least one, if not more, mechanisms to deliver large-scale funding as part of the post-2012 climate change accord.
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