Tuesday, April 01, 2008

UN Bangkok Climate Change Talks Underway

Mar 31: The UN Bangkok Climate Change talks got underway on Monday (March 31), the first major United Nations-sponsored meeting on climate change after the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last year in December [See WIMS 1/2/08, 12/12/07]. At Bali, Parties agreed to step up international efforts to combat climate change and to launch formal negotiations to come to a long-term international agreement in Copenhagen by the end of 2009. The Bangkok meeting (March 31 to April 4) is designed to both map out a work program that will lead to that agreement and to advance work on the rules through which emission reduction targets of developed countries can be met. Delegates from 163 countries are attending the Bangkok Climate Change Talks 2008, which has so far attracted a total of around 1200 participants, including government representatives, participants from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions.

The meeting opened with warnings that the clock is ticking down to prepare an agreement in time to enter into force when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2013. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) pointed out that three months had already elapsed since the Bali conference and that a draft of a future agreement would need to be ready well before Copenhagen. He said, "This leaves us with around one and a half years -- a very short time-frame within which to complete negotiations on one of the most complex international agreements that history has ever seen. But I am confident that it can be done if the work is broken down into manageable, bite-sized chunks."

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali last year, Parties to the UNFCCC decided on both the time-line and the main elements of a stronger climate change deal, including a shared long-term vision and enhanced action on mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance. A new Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) was mandated in Bali to lead the work and is meeting for the first time in Bangkok. Its main task is to spell out the next steps needed to come to the agreement that is envisioned.

The second working group that is meeting at Bangkok is the existing Ad Hoc Working Group on further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP). This group of rich countries will work on the analysis of possible tools available to these countries to reach emission reduction commitments. The tools that the working group will analyze in Bangkok include emissions trading and the “project based mechanisms”. For example, the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism already allows developed countries to meet part of their emission reduction commitments by investing in sustainable development projects in developing countries. Other tools are land use, land-use change and forestry; greenhouse gases, sectors and source categories to be covered, along with possible approaches targeting sectoral emissions, for example from the steel or cement sectors.

The next UN meeting involving negotiations under both working groups will take place in June in Bonn this year, followed by a third meeting in August and a fourth at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland in December.

In a related matter, the Kyoto Protocol Adaptation Fund Board concluded its inaugural meeting in Bonn on March 28. The meeting is widely seen as a major step forward in delivering funding for developing countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. In opening remarks at the meeting, Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary called the launch of the Adaptation Fund "a historic moment." He said, "This is a unique fund, with mitigation action .paying. for adaptation. It is not reliant on donor funding or overseas development assistance. This is the climate regime beginning to become self-financing."

Currently, the Adaptation Fund is filled by means of a 2% levy on projects from the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and is worth about 37 million euros. Considering the number of CDM projects in the pipeline, this figure will rapidly increase to an estimated 80-300 million USD in the period 2008-2012. The Adaptation Fund Board will ensure that the guidelines and procedures for accessing the Fund are established. Secretary de Boer said the comprehensive international climate change deal that will be reached at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 will need to generate billions of dollars in funding for adaptation, with the carbon market likely to play a key role.

Access a release from UNFCCC (
click here). Access the opening statement from Yvo de Boer (click here). Access the Bangkok Climate Change Talks website for complete information and documents (click here). Access a release on the Adaptation Fund Board meeting (click here). Access complete information on the Adaptation Fund and related documents (click here).[*Climate]