Friday, October 09, 2009

Bangkok Climate Negotiations End In Tensions & Turmoil

Oct 9: The two-week climate negotiations in Bangkok concluded with the US climate negotiator saying it will be "extraordinarily difficult for the U.S. to commit to a specific number"; some developing countries walking out of the negotiations and accusing the EU of attempting to kill the Kyoto Protocol; and no clarity on finance and mid-term emission reduction targets. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer attempted to put a positive spin on the meetings saying, “A will has emerged in Bangkok to build the architecture to rapidly implement climate action; but, significant differences remain. In December, citizens everywhere in the world will have a right to know exactly what their governments will do to prevent dangerous climate change. It is time now to step back from self interest and let the common interest prevail.”

Tensions were already running high at the end of week one of the meetings as 180 countries met in Bangkok, Thailand at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings of two working groups -- the first part of the ninth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP); and the first part of the seventh session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) [See WIMS 10/5/09]. Now, it appears that with just 58 days to go until the major meeting in Copenhagen, frustration levels are rising.

Despite the frustrations, Secretary de Boer reported in a final press briefing that parties made progress on the issues of adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building. He said they also reached agreement on technical issues such as forests and land use, how to assess the global warming potentials of new greenhouse gases and the number of options for strengthening the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

However, he emphasized that little progress was made on the issue of mid-term emission reduction targets for industrialized countries [
See WIMS 10/07/09]. And clarity is lacking on the issue of finance that developing countries need to undertake additional actions to limit their emissions growth and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change. De Boer said, “A good example with regard to what industrialized countries can do to increase the level of their ambition in the context of an international agreement at Copenhagen is the minus 40% emissions reduction target announced by Norway today.”

The negotiations in Thailand will be followed by five days of pre-Copenhagen negotiations in Barcelona, Spain (November 2-6) before the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (December 7-18). De Boer said, “Negotiators have three weeks back in their capitals to receive guidance from their political leaders to complete their work. Bold leadership must open the roadblocks around the essentials of targets and finance that the negotiators can complete their journey.

UNFCCC points out that one of the beacons to guide discussions identified by heads of state and government meeting in New York in September is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s finding that an aggregate emission reduction by industrialized countries of between minus 25% and 40% over 1990 levels would be required by 2020, and that global emissions would need to be reduced by at least 50% by 2050, in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

Access a release from UNFCCC (
click here). Access a video of the closing press briefing (click here). Access a report on the negotiations from BNA (click here). Access a report from Bloomberg (click here). Access complete details on the Bangkok meetings including on-demand webcasts and links to all documents for both meetings (click here). Access day-by-day reporting from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) (click here). Access additional links to various media reports on the meetings (click here).