5 May 2012

UN climate talks prepare to implement Durban decisions

One of the central outcomes of the meeting in Durban, South Africa, at the end of last year, was to pave the way for a legal agreement to be completed by 2015 and to come into effect from 2020.

In Durban, governments noted with "grave concern" the significant gap between countries' current pledges to curb emissions and what is required to limit the increase of global average temperatures to at the most 2 degrees Celsius.

A two-day informal ministerial meeting this week in Bonn focused on what needs to be done in the near future and over the next four years to ensure that this and other key decisions that emerged from the Durban conference are effectively implemented, in order to bridge the gap between what governments have committed to up to now and what action is required to make the world climate-resilient.

Ministers and high-level officials from 32 countries expressed determination to build on the strong momentum of the Durban talks to curb greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.

The launch of the new negotiation to shape the new global climate change agreement and first discussions on how to raise ambition will take place at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn (14-25 May), which is designed to prepare decisions for adoption at the UN Climate Change Conference in Qatar (26 November - 7 December).

Key focus on implementation

Participants heard a presentation on how to bridge this gap by the UN Environment Programmes' chief scientist, Professor Joseph Alcamo, who both pointed to the dire risks resulting from staying on a business as usual emissions pathway and the fact that staving off the worst impacts of climate change is both technically and economically achievable.

Speaking to the participants, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and President of the Durban UN Climate Change Conference reminded building towards future:

"We must remain seized with implementing the agreements that have been made on the Green Climate Fund, Finance, Adaptation, Technology and Capacity Building," she said. "The key focus area must still remain: implementation, implementation and implementation now."

Political guidance is needed in five areas to make progress this year. These are:

* amending the Kyoto Protocol in Doha at the end of the year so that it can continue as of the beginning of 2013;
* clarifying emission reduction pledges and accounting arrangements outside of the Kyoto Protocol for the period up to 2020;
* completing the final steps to operationalize the adaptation and technology institutions to help enhance developing country action;
* advancing on long-term climate finance; and defining the path for a new global climate change agreement.

"Science warns that governments need to urgently, decisively and tangibly reduce emissions," said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.

"Fortunately, this is economically feasible and technically attainable. But it clearly depends on ambitious reduction efforts in industrialized countries, and on a sufficient level of ambition to support action by developing countries. So we also need to see the speedy operationalization of the Green Climate Fund and the Technology Mechanism," Ms Figueres said.

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