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May 25, 2012 

Little Progress Made at Bonn Climate Negotiations

Lack of Political Will Hinders Progress

WASHINGTON (May 25, 2012) – The United Nations climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany concluded today with little progress made in addressing climate change. Too much attention was focused on how to structure the new negotiating process rather than on ways to actually reduce emissions. The main controversy revolved around the creation of the “Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action,” or ADP, agreed to at last December’s climate summit in Durban, South Africa.

Specifically, the formal agenda for the new working group was not agreed upon until the last day of the meeting, and the election of the working group’s chair and vice-chair also proved highly contentious. However, some progress was made on other fronts, such as actions to reduce emissions from deforestation (REDD+), technology cooperation, capacity building, and agriculture.

Below are statements from Alden Meyer, UCS Director of Strategy and Policy, and Doug Boucher, UCS Director of Climate Research and Analysis.

Alden Meyer:
“The Bonn meeting underscores the deep divisions that remain between key countries on how to meet the climate challenge, despite the package of agreements reached last December in Durban. The protracted wrangling over the agenda and leadership for the new Durban Platform working group doesn’t augur well for building the atmosphere of trust and collaboration needed to raise the world’s collective ambition on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

“The atmosphere doesn’t care which working group takes the lead in this endeavor, or who chairs these working groups; it only responds to physical emissions of heat-trapping gases, which are continuing to increase at an alarming rate.

“Countries must come to the climate summit later this year in Doha, Qatar prepared to engage on the real issues: how to raise the near-term mitigation ambition of both developed and developing countries; how to ramp up financial support for developing country action on both mitigation and adaptation; and how to equitably share responsibility for the much deeper emissions cuts needed from 2020 on to have a chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

“It’s clear we have the technology, know-how, and ability to meet this challenge, but we’re missing the political will, which was in short supply during these last two weeks in Bonn.”

Doug Boucher:
“At Bonn there was some progress on issues relating to tropical deforestation, including forest monitoring and measuring, and reporting and verifying (MRV) of the results of programs aimed to slow and end deforestation.

“Useful discussions also started on agriculture, a major aspect of climate change that the climate negotiations have hardly considered in previous years.

“But these steps forward cannot come to fruition unless and until the bigger issues are dealt with in a serious way. We hope that will start happening in Doha.”


The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

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