Bonn Meeting Sets the Stage for New, “Bottom-Up” Climate Regime

USCIB’s Norine Kennedy speaking at last month’s UN climate change talks in Bonn
USCIB’s Norine Kennedy speaking at last month’s UN climate change talks in Bonn

While political disagreements continue to bedevil the development of a long-term, post-2020 global agreement to address climate change, meetings last month in Bonn, Germany, held under the auspices of the UN Framework Agreement on Climate Change (UNFCCC), made some progress in practical areas, notably on how a “bottom-up” approach could be the basis for the new UN climate regime.

UN negotiators have set a deadline of December 2015, when leaders will gather in Paris, to reach agreement on the new treaty. According to Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for strategic international engagement, who attended the Bonn sessions, a new climate agreement is likely to be based on nationally defined targets and other actions taken by individual countries, with reporting and review to track progress and determine overall adequacy.

Kennedy was joined in Bonn by a number of USCIB members. The meetings included a session of the UNFCCC Technology Executive Committee (TEC), which promotes the deployment in developing countries of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help countries adapt to the effects of climate change. The TEC, comprised of government representatives from the United States, China, Norway, Mexico and other influential countries, provides policy advice and technology “roadmaps” that support technical assistance.

“USCIB has identified technology innovation and dissemination as a priority for its advocacy in the development of the new long-term UN climate agreement,” said Kennedy. “USCIB members have encouraged the UNFCCC to focus on fostering conditions to enable greater technological innovation, emphasizing the private sector’s critical role in developing and disseminating new climate-friendly technologies.”

In Bonn, TEC Chair Gabriel Blanco of Argentina indicated his intention to involve experts from non-state interests, including business, in the TEC’s ongoing work. USCIB will follow the ongoing work closely to provide business expertise.

Lingering apprehension from Copenhagen

Following the TEC meeting, UN negotiators met to deliberate the drafting of concrete treaty text, with fundamental disagreements persisting among parties over how to begin. According to Kennedy, developing countries support an approach which compiles all government proposals, while developed countries favor an edited and streamlined beginning text, prepared by the negotiations’ co-chairs and drawn from government proposals.

“While this might appear to be a minor procedural point, it presents a fundamental challenge: to reach a simplified text, with a small number of outstanding issues that can be finalized by ministers in Paris,” said Kennedy. “Many governments are still haunted by what happened in Copenhagen in 2009, when new treaty text was introduced at the last second as the result of high-level negotiations among a small group of governments.”

Other discussions in Bonn addressed: energy efficiency and renewable energy; sources and measuring of funding commitments for greenhouse gas reductions, and adaptation to climate change impacts; and response to the anticipated release (which took place this week) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report.

The next UN climate negotiating meeting takes place June 4-15 in Bonn, and will include a ministerial segment in the first week. Governments also agreed to an additional negotiating session in October in Lima, prior to the next major conference of parties to the UNFCCC, which will be held in December, also in Lima. USCIB will be covering all these meetings, so stay tuned for additional reports on these critical UN negotiations and related developments on global climate change.

Staff contact: Norine Kennedy


More on USCIB’s Environment Committee

Staff Contact:   Norine Kennedy

Senior VP, Policy and Global Strategy
Tel: 212.703.5052

Norine Kennedy promotes U.S. business participation in international environmental policy and management initiatives, and works closely with industry, government and NGOs to promote sustainable development and green growth. She also spearheads USCIB’s strategic international engagement initiative, which seeks to advance meaningful business participation and regulatory diplomacy in inter-governmental organizations.
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