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When parties left Durban five months ago they could return home with an agreement. COP17 was presented as a diplomatic success and a breakthrough in global climate talks. When parties met again in Bonn, two weeks ago, they had to interpret what was really decided in Durban, and that has not been easy.
The past two weeks of negotiations have been difficult, no doubt. There are very different views on how to proceed, and while talks in Bonn centered on increased ambitions, it is very difficult to see any real progress on the ground.
Looking at the concrete outcome from Bonn, there is not much to show. An agenda, an agreement about who should chair the talks, and small steps forward in some more technical negotiations. However, it is wrong to evaluate Bonn based on this result. The conflict wasn't really about the agenda, but about the level of ambition and effort sharing in the coming years.
In Durban it was agreed that a global agreement should be implemented from 2020 the latest. This will be an agreement where all parties are included, without the clear "fire wall" between developed and developing countries as we know it now. However, Durban didn't say much about the years up to 2020, and this led to the "hangover" in Bonn.
Which principles should apply for the coming years? How should the "fire wall" be interpreted when the current negotiations about the Kyoto protocol and the convention (LCA) are closed in December this year? Or in other words, how should responsibilities in the coming years be divided, and whom do we expect to take the lead?
If parties would have had confidence in each other even these challenging questions could have been solved. However, Bonn was characterized by lack of trust. Very little have been done on domestic level since Durban, and very little has actually been done the last years. How can parties trust each other when they cannot see promises fulfilled? Without trust parties return to nationalistic positions, doing what they can to protect their interests. With such an approach it is difficult to reach global agreements built on compromise and dialogue.
The hangover from Durban influenced the outcome from Bonn. Let us hope that negotiators arrive in the next session of the climate talks with fresh minds, energy and higher ambitions!
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