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June 1, 2010

UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Talks

The most exciting event occurred yesterday evening – a reception by the governments of Germany and Bonn honoring Yves deBoer.  It was a very touching tribute.  I got to meet his successor, Christina Figuerez, and along with everyone else was wowed by her.  She spoke with great commitment, eloquence and insight about the challenges before her and how she plans to approach them.  She is very charming, well informed, connected and persuasive.  I think she is a great choice.  She has a record of remarkable success in obtaining agreements of tough, contentious issues, but acknowledged that none were as difficult as this one.

The conference today was uneventful. The Chair of the plenary has a good plan.  He assigned the various issues to contact groups with very able chairs and balanced members.   His idea is to create building blocks issue by issue on which an agreement can be consummated in November in Cancun, instructing them to come up with agreed texts by a week from tomorrow,  Wednesday the 9th and have those adopted on which agreement can be reached by the end of the conference on the 11th.  So the two main negotiating forums, the AWG/KP (Kyoto Protocol), and  AWG/LPA (Long Term Cooperative Action under the Convention) will mainly  be discussion forums on the issues, but the drafting will be done by the contact groups.

The expectation is that the Kyoto Protocol’s mandatory emission reductions will be dropped because the opposition from the US and BASIC emerging countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) is too great and without mandatory commitments from them, the other countries won’t be willing  to make expanded mandatory commitments (though the EU has proposed going from 20% to 30% reductions by 2020 to demonstrate leadership).  The financing mechanisms of the Protocol probably will be retained.  The developing countries won’t be happy with this resolution but  probably will go along,  particularly if there is generous financing provided for them. Financing for developing countries will surely be key to obtaining their support – tough to do in these very difficult times economically.

Agreement in Bonn is expected on adaptation measures, REDD+ forestry preservation measures, over-all emission reduction targets, and technology transfer arrangements. A lot of the Copenhagen Accord provisions are expected to survive.

All the best.  Dick