Reporting from Bonn: with signs of slow progress, the session approaches its end


Today is the tenth day of negotiations in Bonn, Germany, which is scheduled to conclude tomorrow 11th June.

Over the last few days, since the meetings started on 1st June, Parties have been engaging in a first and second reading of the Geneva negotiating text, working through facilitated meetings to help streamline and consolidate the text.

The goal for the Bonn meeting is to deliver a shorter, clearer and more workable negotiating text, working toward a successful outcome in Paris this December. Yet, with some paragraphs proving too difficult to consolidate, the pace of the progress continues to be, overall, remarkably slow. Commenting on the reduction by only 5% after three days of arduous work (and not much more thereafter), country delegates feel that not enough progress has been made so far, and work needs to intensify in earnest. Further updates on the streamlined text are expected to come out soon.

Twenty negotiating days are available before COP 21 in Paris. Half of this time is being spent here in Bonn. As noted by a delegate, a more manageable negotiating text is urgently needed to start addressing “the real issues on the table” and allow for substantive negotiations to begin. Contentious issues yet to be discussed include the crosscutting issue of differentiation and the legal form of the agreement. Further clarity on INCDs, the length of these commitments, review mechanisms, and their legal character, is also needed.

LRI has been supporting delegates from some of the smallest delegations since the start of the session. As usual, their queries have reflected developments in the discussions. A number of delegates have asked us for clarification on the legal standing of the Geneva text and other texts being considered in Bonn. Also, as the issue of legal form of the Paris agreement is gaining momentum, a number of delegates asked us to identify the possible options available. With INDCs being a key part of this agreement, the question of how these could be integrated has also been raised for analysis. Finally, a question on which we have provided extensive advice during the last days relates to what kind of deal might be acceptable to the US and the constitutional constraints on the US ratifying a legally binding agreement.

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Outside the negotiations, LRI’s Executive Director Christoph Schwarte gave a talk for students, staff and other lawyers on “international law and the climate negotiations” at the university of Bonn.

He had been invited by Prof Talmon of the Institute for Public International Law as part of a lecture series on international law. With him came Edward Wabwoto, a Kenyan lawyer and negotiator, who has been working with LRI for several years. A day after the conclusion of the G7 summit in Germany, participants were excited to hear about the role of lawyers and the law in the international negotiations; and from a ‘real’ negotiator. However, a show of hands indicated that most of them felt that it was unlikely that the ADP negotiations would conclude with a new agreement in Paris.