I spend 2 weeks a year in Bonn – but I’ve never been here in August until this year. Bonn is the seat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and today starts the third major negotiating session here this year as countries try to build a new global climate framework by December.

Bonn 3 was supposed to be a quiet session, but chairman Michael Zammit Cutajar just raised the stakes. He told NGOs and delegates he views this meeting as part of the next big session in Bangkok… so this is now a major negotiating session, one week in Bonn, 2 weeks in Bangkok in October.

Zammit Cutajar also wants delegates to focus less on structure and more on substance — and there is a lot of substance to deal with before December. We have a negotiating text with 200+ pages, and this week delegates have to clean it up and trim it down into something more concise, consolidate it.

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But we know they can do it because we faced a similar situation in Kyoto (1997). At this time in 1997, the draft text was over 120 pages and delegates whittled it down to about 50 pages by December. So it can be done.

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The other big focus of this meeeting is to develop the workplan, the Agenda, for the October meeting in Bangkok.

Bonn 3 deal?

So we probably can’t expect some kind of mini-deal by the end of Bonn 3, and we probably won’t see any major breakthroughs in country positions, like numbers for climate adaptation finance, that sort of thing.

But we will see nations refine the details of their positions, narrow the negotiating text and continue to create the building blocks for a December deal in Copenhagen.

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And everyone will want to know what is next for the U.S. as the Senate gets ready to take up climate legislation in September.