Monday, April 04, 2011

UNFCCC Climate Change Meetings Get Underway In Bangkok

Apr 4: As the U.S. Congress continues to argue over the science of climate change and is on the verge of voting on measures that will strip U.S. EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; half a world away, some 1,500 participants from 173 countries are meeting in Bangkok, Thailand to develop a global response to climate change.
    The sixteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP), the fourteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), as well as workshops pursuant to the Cancun Agreements, are taking place in Bangkok, from April 3 through April 8. The meetings and workshops were preceded by preparatory regional group meetings from March 30 to April 2. Christiana Figueres, the top United Nations climate change official urged countries to tackle the key issues of emission reduction targets as well as funding and technology to assist developing nations tackle global warming.
    The first UN negotiations for this year are designed to build on the Cancun Agreements of last year. Figueres said, "Here in Bangkok, governments have the early opportunity to push ahead to complete the concrete work they agreed in Cancún, and to chart a way forward that will ensure renewed success at the next UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, [South Africa in December 2011]. If governments move forward in the continued spirit of flexibility and compromise that inspired them in Mexico, then I'm confident they can make significant new progress in 2011." she added.

    Dubbed the Cancún Agreements, the decisions reached at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December last year [See WIMS 12/15/10] include formalizing mitigation pledges and ensuring increased accountability for them, as well as taking concrete action to tackle deforestation, which account for nearly one-fifth of global carbon emissions. Delegates at that meeting also agreed to ensure no gap between the first and second commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the Convention that contains legally binding measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and whose first commitment period is due to expire in 2012.

    Agreement was also reached on establishing a fund for long-term climate financing to support developing countries, and bolstering technology cooperation and enhancing vulnerable populations' ability to adapt to the changing climate. Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, called on governments to rapidly advance work to complete the institutions which were agreed and deliver the funding and technology to help developing countries deal comprehensively with climate change. She said, "It is important that the agreed actions and institutions are delivered on time and in accordance with the deadlines agreed in Cancun so that the broader global climate regime is up and running in 2012." 

    According to a release, the institutions include a Green Climate Fund to house the international management, deployment and accountability of long-term funds for developing country support; a Technology Mechanism to promote clean technologies; and an Adaptation Framework to boost international cooperation to help developing countries protect themselves from climate change impacts.

    The other main task governments have before them, Figueres noted, relates to the emission reduction targets and actions which would allow the world to stay below the maximum temperature rise of two degrees Celsius, which was agreed in Cancún. Figures pointed out that the sum of national promises so far equals only around 60% of what science requires by 2020 to stay below the agreed two degrees goal.

    Figueres said governments this year need to resolve fundamental issues over the future of the Kyoto Protocol. She said, "Governments need to figure out how to address this issue and how to take it forward in a collective and inclusive way. Resolving the issue will create a firmer foundation for a greater collective ambition to cut emissions."

    Access a release from the UN (click here). Access a release from UNFCCC (click here). Access complete information and documents on the  AWG-KP16 meeting (click here); the AWG-LCA14 meeting (click here); and the pre-sessional workshops (click here). Access live and on-demand webcasts from the Bangkok meetings (click here).

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