The Bonn Climate Change Conference took place from 14 to 25 May 2012. The two weeks focussed on the working and progress of the five working bodies with much attention on the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) especially as many of the parties had already returned home when the Durban Platform was being agreed at the COP. The constructive ambiguity of the carefully constructed Durban Platform by definition left areas of uncertainty. Uncertainly in these sorts of negotiations breeds distrust and political posturing.
Indeed in this meeting some progress was made in other streams but a lot of time was spent on the creation of the new ADP bureau, the election of officers and the agenda, with countries muscling in on selected areas of particular interest for them. As everyone had to have their say, there was a great risk that nothing would be agreed and this took up most of the two weeks. An agreement was only reached after an'intense' session of negotiations and presented just in time on the 25th May during the ADP closing plenary. It can be helpful to put this in some context. The political and economic landscape was very different in 1992 when the Convention was agreed. Over the years the fragmenting of the traditional negotiating blocks such as the G77 has become obvious - and there were noticeable gaps in Durban - in Bonn this became even more pronounced. With the Latin American and Caribbean group (GRULAC) and Asian- Pacific Group do not represent the voice of the whole group yet they can be considered to be the dominant forces. Bonn also saw a split within the developing countries as two groups emerged with differing agendas. One group of around 40 countries primarily composed of Arab and dominant Latin American (such as Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia) with India and China seemed to form an alliance to ensure that the historical responsibility for climate change remains firmly with the developed world and to uphold the principles of common but differentiate responsibility emerged, maintaining that any outcome of the ADP must be equitable and the universality of application does not slip into uniformity of application. A second group formed out of members of AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), other Latin American states such as Chile, Costa Rica and Peru are asking for'incentivised' action on mitigation from both the developed and developing countries as the beginning of a new paradigm for responding to climate change.
This helps to explain the multi-year approach to the agreed arrangements for the ADP Bureau with two Co-Chairs, one from a non-Annex I country and one from an Annex I country. In 2012-2013, the ADP will be co-chaired by Jayant Moreshwar Mauskar (India), nominated by the Asia-Pacific Group and Harald Dovland (Norway), nominated by the Western Europe and Others Group. Oleg Shamanov (Russian Federation) will be the Rapporteur. In 2013, Kishan Kumarsingh (Trinidad and Tobago), nominated by the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) will co-chair the ADP with a Co-Chair from an Annex I country, and the Rapporteur will come from a non-Annex I party. In 2015, the non-Annex I party Co-Chair will be from the African Group and the Rapporteur from a non-Annex I country. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres welcomed the new Bureau members and commended the chairs for having "unequivocal perseverance". It is likely that more than just perseverance will be needed as this is only the agreement on the bureau not any output from the ADP. Doha has to see progress on the key aspects of the Durban Platform namely more details on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol; a pre-2020 mitigation work plan; agreement by 2015 applicable to all; concluding the AWG-LCA; and operationalising the institutions created in Cancun and Durban.
A more personal observation from Bridging the Gap is that there are now so many spin off working groups focussing on a variety of different topics it is difficult to follow, fro governments and observers alike without an army of knowledgeable human beings. The COP 18 chair will need significant support and be able to execute impressive mental gymnastics to be able satisfy so many disparate views and requirements in order to create anything that might look like a consensus, required by the UN so that progress can be made. - and a lot of good luck!