June 5, 2006

Preliminary talks conclude in Bonn for post-2012 Kyoto targets

The first round of negotiations for further reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol concluded in Bonn, Germany, with officials describing the discussions as "successful." They said the meeting produced an "ambitious agenda" focusing on a sound process which will lead to science-based emission reduction targets on the part of industrialized countries with in the next few years.

The officials further noted that the Bonn meeting included discussions of new technologies and the role of the private sector. The first round of the "Dialogue on long-term co-operative action" was open to all 189 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is the Kyoto Protocol's parent treaty.

"There is a strong sense of urgency and there's a clear consensus that there should be no gap after 2012 when the first commitment period ends," said Michael Zammit Cutajar, head of one of the Kyoto Protocol working groups. The Protocol requires 36 industrial countries to reduce to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below levels specified for each of them. Overall, according to officials, this should amount to reductions of at least 5% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

Developing countries, which will be hit hardest by climate change, are reported to be pushing for rapid agreement on deeper emission cuts. "This is the message we have also been hearing from business leaders meeting here in Bonn," said Richard Kinley, acting head of the Climate Change Secretariat. "They have underlined the importance of speedy process from their perspective. Obviously, the carbon market needs clear signals," he stated.

Feng Gao, the Convention's deputy executive secretary for implementation, said negotiations on the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol and the long-term co-operative action dialogue are "mutually reinforcing" in shaping international action to fight climate change. "Industrialized countries have emphasized the importance of these negotiations based on the latest scientific data and taking into account new technological solutions available today," he explained.

Halldor Thorgeirsson, deputy executive secretary for scientific and technical advice, reported considerable progress by the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies during the Bonn discussions. "Representatives have been excited by the prospects offered by the new technologies such as carbon capture and storage," he said, adding, "Countries agreed to take forward the work on reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries."

The next round of negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol and the UNFCCC are slated for November in Nairobi, Kenya.

Meanwhile, Kinley, a Canadian, has been added to a short list of candidates being considered for the post of executive secretary for the UNFCCC. The post became vacant last year upon the sudden death of the incumbent, Joke Waller-Hunter. The selection process is being carried out in conjunction with a search for a new director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The UN secretary-general may also consider UNEP director candidates for the UNFCCC post.

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