"Progress made" at global climate talks

Countries said moving towards final negotiating phase on Kyoto protocol rules

A penultimate round of preparatory talks for November's sixth meeting of parties to the 1992 UN climate change convention (COP6) ended in Bonn on Friday with significant, though muted, progress reported on several fronts. Key political divisions between the EU, the "umbrella group" of industrialised countries and developing countries remain, however.

Key to the talks was the proposed "rulebook" to govern implementation of the 1997 Kyoto protocol, under which developed countries have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2%. A complex and wide-ranging set of issues still needs resolution if a deadline of final agreement at COP6 is to be achieved.

Participants entered the talks with relatively low expectations, which were largely fulfilled. Only limited progress was made on political issues, one EU negotiator told ENDS Daily, "but no one expected more". However, "a lot of progress was made on technical issues," he said, including clarification of issues and deepening of understanding, both "necessary investments before going into [political] negotiations".

Examples of progress include article 5.1 of the protocol, which covers guidelines for national accounting systems for greenhouse gas emissions. Significant advances were also made on communication and review of information supplied by contracting parties, plus adaptation to effects of climate change, compliance with the protocol and response measures, according to participants.

Draft negotiating texts were further refined for these and other elements. The downside remains that most of these remain full of square brackets, marking disputed options, and several still run to over 100 pages. A final session of preparatory talks to be held in Lyon, France from 11-15 September, will aim to boil these texts down to a manageable size for final negotiation in the Hague in November.

A huge list of key political issues remained unresolved in Bonn. A non-exhaustive list, for reference, is the following: What rules should govern the protocol's flexible mechanisms? Should there be a cap on their use? How widely should countries be allowed to count carbon absorbed by forest "sinks"? Should forestry or nuclear projects be eligible under the "clean development mechanism" or excluded? What, if any, penalties should follow non-compliance with the protocol and should these include a ban on countries' trading greenhouse gas emissions? Should liability for those participating in a Kyoto protocol trading scheme fall on the buyer, the seller or both? How strongly should a list of approved policies and measures to limit emissions be framed?

Follow Up:
UN web pages on the Bonn talks and daily coverage from Earth Negotiations Bulletin, including a useful summary and analysis.

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