Global perspective Human stories

Latest round of UN climate change talks kicks off

Latest round of UN climate change talks kicks off

Representatives from 182 governments have gathered in Bonn, Germany, today for a fresh round of United Nations talks on climate change, aiming to pick up on issues left unresolved after December's gathering in Copenhagen.

The Copenhagen Accord – which dozens of countries have now signed – was the final document from the conference in the Danish capital, where progress to agree on a binding treaty faltered.

“The Copenhagen meeting may have postponed an outcome for at least a year, but it did not postpone the impacts of climate change,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“The deadline to agree an effective international response to climate change at Copenhagen was set because governments, when launching negotiations in Bali in 2007, recognized the scientific warning on climate for what it was: a siren call to act now, or face the worst,” he noted.

The next gathering of the conference of the parties to the UNFCCC will be held later this year in the Mexican city of Cancun.

“Climate negotiations over the next two weeks will be on track if they keep focused on a common way forward towards a concrete and realistic goal in Cancun,” Mr. de Boer said. “There is a growing consensus on what that the goal for Cancun can be – namely, a full, operational architecture to implement effective, collective climate action.”

Two working groups will meet during the Bonn gathering, with one focusing on a new negotiating text and the other concentrating on emissions reduction commitments for the 37 industrialized countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol for the period beyond 2012.

“I encourage governments to now develop greater clarity on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, since this issue cannot be left unattended until Cancun,” the UNFCCC head said.

He also called on industrialized nations to fulfill the pledge they made in Copenhagen to deploy $30 billion from now to 2012 to jump-start climate action in developing countries. “Cancun can deliver if promises of help are kept and if promises to compromise are honoured in the negotiations.”

Last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica will replace Mr. de Boer as head of the UNFCCC when he steps down this summer to pursue new opportunities to advance progress on climate change in the private sector and academia.