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14 June 2010

Slowly, tentatively, climate talks get back on track

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Away from the media spotlight, climate negotiators in Bonn have delivered real progress towards an international deal

The latest round of UN climate talks in Bonn will draw to a close on June 11 amid growing optimism that the negotiations are once again making progress following the acrimonious fallout from last year's Copenhagen summit.

Speaking to reporters, outgoing head of the UN climate secretariat Yvo de Boer said that while "we really should have got a deal in Copenhagen" he was now confident an international climate treaty could be finalised at the South Africa summit next year.

He also predicted that substantial progress towards a deal would be achieved at this year's main UN climate summit in Mexico.

"In Cancun we can get a fully functioning architecture," he said, explaining that the new framework was expected to cover deforestation, climate finance and greenhouse gas targets. "That functioning architecture will give countries enough confidence to say we want to turn this into a binding treaty. That will come in South Africa."

Optimism was further fuelled by the circulation yesterday of a new draft negotiating text that appeared to confirm rumours that there had been " convergence" between the main negotiating blocs over the past fortnight.

The 22-page text, which has been prepared by a working group led by Zimbabwe’s Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, significantly narrows the range of options open for discussion at future talks suggesting that countries have begun to shift previously entrenched positions.

For example, the text removes an earlier option of setting a target for temperature rises of just one degree, offering negotiators the choice between a target of either two or 1.5 degrees.

Similarly, a previous option of aiming to ensure global greenhouse gas emissions peak by 2015 has been scrubbed in favour of a 2020 target, while the range of emission targets to be discussed for 2050 have been narrowed from 50-95 per cent to 50-85 per cent.


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