Back to the beginning in Bonn

It’s that time again. Global climate-change negotiations are once again under way in Bonn, Germany. Negotiators will spend two weeks trying to pick up the pieces left by the disastrous Copenhagen summit. A new negotiating text has been assembled based on elements of “draft core decision texts”, which were negotiated by all nations at Copenhagen, and the Copenhagen Accord, which was put together by a select group in the final hours of the talks.

As the Pew Center on Global Climate Change has noted, this new negotiating text, which may yet form the basis for a new global agreement on climate change, includes many elements of the Copenhagen Accord. This is likely to prove controversial with those countries that opposed the Accord, including nations like Tuvalu and Bolivia.

But with US climate legislation stalled and powerful developing countries sticking to a strong line on what they will and won’t agree to, the incorporation of elements of the Accord may, politically, be the only possible way forward.

Damian Ryan of the Climate Group has warned people not to expect too much from Bonn. He says: “The next two weeks of negotiations are likely to provide few surprises or breakthroughs.” He believes that the key task for negotiators is to “lay the foundations” for a future deal – one that is unlikely to materialise before 2011.

There is also the risk that another breakdown in negotiations at Bonn could damage further the credibility of the United Nations process. In the long term this may prove fatal.