Climate negotiations resume in Bonn; focus on developing text of draft agreement

Negotiations will also explore opportunities for capturing carbon and non-CO2 gases

By Aditi Sawant
Published: Monday 20 October 2014

File photo of climate talks (Photo courtesy: IISD)

The final round of negotiations to develop the text of a new draft climate agreement begins in Bonn, Germany, today.  Governments will come together to achieve clarity on the elements of this draft agreement so that they may have a definite foundation to work upon during the UN climate change conference in Lima, Peru, in December this year.

The draft agreement that emerges from the Lima conference will form the basis for negotiating a new universal climate agreement expected to be achieved in Paris, France, in 2015.

The meeting will also focus on measures such as “capturing carbon” and “mitigation of non CO2 gases”. Studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have postulated “win-win” methods for climate protection in the short term and clean air benefits by targeting non-CO2 climate warming gases. 

Kyoto’s basket of gases contains five non-CO2 gases – methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). UNEP has also identified black carbon (soot) and tropospheric ozone as other non-CO2 greenhouse gases.

These gases trap several times more heat than CO2 and have contributed to almost 30 per cent of man-made climate change since preindustrial times. The silver lining is that technologies are already available to cut their emissions.  Reducing emissions from these climate pollutants might be easier than reducing carbon dioxide emissions as most of our energy needs are met by burning fossil fuels.

UN experts will also engage with non-governmental organisations and the private sector over the issue of “carbon capture”. Also known as “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) or “carbon sequestration”, carbon capture is a set of technologies devised to capture CO2 from power plants, industries or the atmosphere and permanently storing it underground.

The rationale behind carbon capture is to bypass the sundry technological, economic and policy barriers in moving towards a low carbon economy. The technology, however, is shrouded in doubt because it comes with its own set of problems and significant external costs. Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs) are likely to discuss implications and prospects of carbon capture at the talks.

TEMs are a platform to share views and experiences on options, barriers and solutions to those barriers. So far, they have managed to uplift policy goals in the field of renewables, energy efficiency and land use issues.

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