Bali Road Map

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007, countries agreed to step up their efforts to combat climate change and adopted the "Bali Road Map", which consisted of a number of forward-looking decisions to facilitate discussions on future actions on climate change. The deadline for agreement was December 2009 in Copenhagen.

The Bali Road Map included two "tracks" of negotiations:

1. The Convention track: These negotiations centred around the Bali Action Plan, which had four main "building blocks" - mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing, as well as a shared vision for long-term cooperative action including a long-term global goal for emission reductions.

2. The Kyoto Protocol track: This deals with the commitments for the industrialised countries (Annex I Parties) under the Kyoto Protocol for the period beyond 2012 when the first period of emission reduction commitments (2008-2012) expires. In particular, talks were focused upon emission reduction targets and means of implementation.

The negotiations were conducted in two ad hoc working groups - one on Long-term Cooperative Action (the AWG-LCA) and one on the Kyoto Protocol (the AWG-KP) - and are distinct in a number of ways. Significantly, the broader Bali Action Plan track considered how to significantly upscale all climate policy issues, including nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) and national adaptation programmes (NAPs) in developing countries. The Bali Action Plan also included discussions of new policy areas, such as how to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries (REDD).

However, the two tracks are also inter-linked in many ways, in particular in relation to mitigation. As the AWG-KP is discussing the next round of commitments for industrialised countries that are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, the AWG-LCA, in addition to other issues, is looking at commitments for developed countries that are not Party to the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover the discussions on mitigation actions by developing countries under the AWG-LCA are politically linked to progress in relation to commitments by developed countries. Similarly the discussions on shared vision and long-term goal for emission reduction in the AWG-LCA are of direct relevance to the debate in the AWG-KP. Both bodies also look at the different tools to reach emission reduction targets and ways to enhance cost-effectiveness of mitigation, including through market-based approaches.

Progress to date

2008: Preliminary Discussions and Poznan (COP14), the 'Halfway Point'.

The AWG-LCA in its first year of work in 2008 had a rather slow start. The first year was devoted to building mutual confidence among the Parties, planning the work, and clarifying ideas and proposals. At the same time, the AWG-KP in 2008 focused on the analysis of means to reach emission reduction targets and the identification of ways to enhance the effectiveness of the implementation, including flexible mechanisms; land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF); a basket of greenhouse gases (GHGs); and covered sectors.

In December 2008, Parties met in Poznan for the 14th COP, marking the half way point in the Bali Road Map. While Poznan resulted in some progress, there were no major breakthroughs. Discussions continued in all areas, particularly on two key issues relating to finance for developing countries: institutional arrangments for the Adaptation Fund, with a decision to house it within the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and a proposal by developing countries to raise adapation funding through a broader levy on international emissions trading mechanisms.

The other significant development of the Bali Road Map process was the Poznan Strategic Program on Technology Transfer (SPTT). The SPTT supported a GEF proposal on how to design a new system for transfer technology from developed to developing countries. The Program is based around three funding windows: a technology needs assessment, development of pilot projects, and dissemination of demonstrated technologies. The SPTT reflects work already taking place under the GEF, but also provided a mandate for discussions in Copenhagen.

2009: Six Sessions to Reach an Agreement

In 2009, the AWG-LCA and the AWG-KP held five negotiating sessions prior to the Copenhagen conference. The AWG-LCA developed a very complex negotiating text, nearly 200 pages long, presenting various proposals and containing numerous areas of disagreement. While some progress was made on adaptation, reducing deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries plus conservation (REDD-plus) and technology, negotiations on finance and mitigation did not move much forward.

Negotiations under the AWG-KP made little progress in 2009. Developing countries urged Annex I Parties to commit to ambitious emission reduction targets, while developed countries argued that making progress on aggregate and individual emission reduction targets and in general effectively responding to climate change required the involvement of the United States and major developing countries. Moreover, there was no agreement over the legal structure of the future framework and on the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. Developed countries saw a single new agreement coming out of both negotiating tracks (AWG-KP and AWG-LCA) as an outcome, while developing countries wanted to see the Kyoto Protocol amended and continued post-2012.

The Copenhagen Conference, December 2009

The expectations for the Copenhagen had risen very high, with a large number of high-level international meetings on climate change preceding the conference in the last quarter of 2009 - including the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Climate Change Summit, the Secretary-General's Summit on Climate Change, the UN General Assembly, and others. The Copenhagen conference was attended by over 45,000 participants, including observers and negotiators, and 119 Heads of State. According to the reports by the media, this conference was the largest one in the history of the United Nations, and certainly the largest political event ever focused on climate change.

However, despite this high level of political attention to the issue, it was becoming already clear before the conference that reaching a comprehensive post-2012 agreement in Copenhagen would not be possible. While some progress had been made at the technical level in the various negotiating tracks under the Bali Road Map during 2008-9, high-level political guidance was required to resolve the main crunch issues - in particular, commitments by industrialised countries; mitigation actions by developing countries; financing and technology transfer; and measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of actions and of support.

As a result, the COP and CMP resolved to extend the work of both AWGs to COP 16. Through 2010, Parties will continue to negotiate in all of these areas (either with existing or new text), with a view to adopting firm outcomes at COP 16/CMP 6, while taking note of the Copenhagen Accord. Decisions adopted during COP15/CMP5.

The Copenhagen Accord

After two weeks of intense negotiations, the COP and the CMP plenary sessions resolved to "take note" of a document prepared during the High-Level Segment of the conference - the Copenhagen Accord. This document is a political declaration on climate change, covering most of the major areas that have been under negotiation in UNFCCC sessions since 2005. The Accord provides political guidance and direction to the negotiations under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, and contains some operational elements that are effective immediately.

The Copenhagen Accord also contained two annexes:

  • emission reduction pledges from developed countries for the year 2020, and
  • emission reduction actions from developing countries (both supported and autonomous).

Parties were required to submit the relevant information by 31 January 2010. As of 24 February 2010, of the 193 Parties to the Convention, more than 100 countries (including the 27-member European Union) had officially communicated their support to, or association with, the Copenhagen Accord. Status of submissions

The Accord in Context

The Accord represents unprecedented political commitment and involvement on the part of Heads of State and Government. During the final days of Copenhagen, leaders themselves engaged in the drafting process, highlighting their commitment to finding a common outcome on climate change.

However, a number of issues remain unclear that need to be resolved in coming months. First, as part of the adoption of the Accord, it was agreed that parties would "subscribe" to the Accord, thus indicating their association with its contents and provisions. It is not yet clear what implications, if any, not subscribing to the Accord would have on Parties. Second, the Copenhagen Accord is not legally binding; Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated that the Accord must to be transformed into a legally binding instrument during 2010. The process for making this transformation - and so "taking note" of the accord and its operational elements in a larger agreement - is not yet clear.

For a short summary of the negotiations, please download the UNDP summary (English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic). For a detailed analysis of Copenhagen, please download our latest publication, The Outcomes of Copenhagen: the Negotiations & the Accord. Available in English, French, Spanish, and Russian. Arabic forthcoming.

For the latest updates, please refer to our Negotiations News page.