The first meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since the chaotic conclusion of the COP15 climate conference late last year in Copenhagen concluded yesterday amid a general theme of "picking up the pieces" from the "shattered" process of international climate negotiations.
COP15 ended with the Copenhagen Accord, hammered out in the final hours of the two-week conference, among only five of the 193 nations in attendance. The process, more than the result, led many to call for "restoring trust" in that process - particularly between rich and poor nations, an ongoing theme that dogged the proceedings in Copenhagen. While many government negotiators agreed to the sentiment of renewed trust at this weekend's meeting (implying, of course, that trust was there to begin with) none of the 175 nations in attendance offered any concessions to further that goal.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer gave a positive spin at the conclusion of the meeting, saying that "At this meeting in Bonn, I have generally seen a strong desire to make progress.” But he also held out little hope - perhaps burned by the hype in the run-up to COP15 - of any legally binding international treaty being reached later this year at the COP16 conference in Mexico.
The Americans do not want a second round of Kyoto. It is very possible we will see two agreements emerging from Cancun," said de Boer over the weekend.
One of the principal aims of the Bonn meeting was to determine how many extra meetings to hold in preparation for COP16 to help insure progress, if not binding agreements. In addition to the meetings already scheduled, negotiators agreed to add two more negotiating sessions. Not quite the clip of last year's head-long rush to Copenhagen, but still an added push in a hopeful attempt to work through the continually thorny problems of forging an agreement among the varied interests of rich and poor, north and south, developed and developing.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun must do what Copenhagen did not achieve: It must finalize a functioning architecture for implementation that launches global climate action, across the board, especially in developing nations,” said de Boer.
In practical terms, hopes now seem pinned more to 2011, at COP17 in South Africa, as the next possible opportunity to forge a real, binding climate agreement among all participating nations.