The Bonn Climate Change Conference

by: Fr. Seán McDonagh, SSC
July 5, 2011

At the Bonn Conference on Climate Change, the first thing which comes to mind is how little coverage this vitally important negotiation session is receiving the world media.  A favorable outcome from the Bonn Conference is essential if the U.N. Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which is to meet later in the year in Durban, South Africa, is to succeed.   As the Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012, Durban must deliver a fair, ambitious and binding climate change treaty.   The top priority in that treaty must be the ambition to close the gigatonne gap which the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) estimates at between 5-9 gigatonnes.

One gigaton = 109 tons, or 1,000,000,000 tons.  This is why the world needs ambitious cuts in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) if we are going to keep average rise in temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.  Rich countries must move to the top end of the cuts in GHBs which they have promised.  The reduction target now must be a 40% cut in emissions by 2020.  They must also agree to close loopholes which have been used in the past to avoid taking painful decisions now.   Among important issue for Durban is adequate finance.  Cancun took positive steps towards setting up an institutional structure for financing various aspects of climate change, especially money to help poor countries to adapt to climate change which is already happening. The Durban Conference must ensure that there is adequate money to address adaptation needs. The Fund must be increased year-on-year so that the $100 billion promised by 2020 is realized.  Without adequate finance poor countries which are already feeling the impact of climate change will suffer further disastrous consequences.