Climate Change / Expert Perspectives

What Happened at the United Nations Climate Change Talks in Bonn?

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany ended on Friday and most news outlets are reporting a “mixed-bag” of step-wise progress and discouraging stalemates. Our climate program director, Jeff Hayward, shares a synopsis of the session’s achievements and failings.

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  • The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) failed to make any progress due to objections from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine regarding the group’s agenda. This justifiably sparked frustration among attendees. Discussion surrounding important issues, such as agreement on the “loss-and damage proposal” and how the impacts of climate change in “least developed countries” (or LDCs) and small nations might be addressed, will now be postponed until COP19 in Warsaw.  This means that SBI will have to accelerate its pace at Warsaw; given what occurred in Bonn, there are rising concerns that many agenda items will once again be pushed back to 2014.
  • Despite a notably tense forum for discussions, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) made some minor but important progressive steps. As others have noted, a stall in SBI may have actually contributed to advancements in SBSTA. In terms of achievements, SBSTA submitted a draft decision on modalities for national forest monitoring systems, aiming for adoption by COP19, which highlights the need to develop “measurement, reporting and verification” (or MRV) technical capacity and encourages parties to improve data and methodologies over time while maintaining appropriate forest reference emission levels/reference levels (RELs/ RLs). Previous stalemates surrounding reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) have been partially connected to a lack of clarity surrounding MRV systems–any additional guidance and decisions surrounding how countries should develop appropriate and effective MRV systems may help to keep REDD+ conversations progressing.
  •  The SBSTA also made progress concerning greenhouse gases. This progress included decisions on the accounting rules for developed countries and agreement on the types of sectors and gases that should be covered. 
  • Perhaps the most important development (especially for the Rainforest Alliance): for one of the first times since Durban in 2011, the  role of adaptation within agriculture was discussed and SBSTA members agreed to submit proposals on how to best “enhance the adaptation of agriculture to climate change impacts while promoting  rural development, sustainable development and productivity of agricultural systems and  food security in all countries, particularly in developing countries.”

Visit our website to learn more about the Rainforest Alliance’s work to fight climate change and influence climate change policy.


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