Bangkok talks open as tensions prevail
By Anne Eckstein | Thursday 30 August 2012
Tensions were palpable at the opening of the final session of informal preparatory talks for the United Nations climate change conference, to be held in Doha, Qatar (UNFCCC-COP18, 26 November-7 December).
The European Union, which is being represented at the preparatory talks in Bangkok by the Cypriot Presidency and the European Commission’s main negotiator, Artur-Runge Metzger, expects that the Durban platform for enhanced climate action (created to develop a new global climate agreement between now and 2015, to enter into force in 2020) will finally get to the heart of matters; the questions of renewing commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol and the use of funds promised to developing countries will be central to the discussions.
Since the opening of the Bangkok talks - which will continue until 5 September - around 50 of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries have called on richer countries to set objectives for the reduction of emissions, and also to honour promises made in Copenhagen (2009), and since reiterated in Cancun (2010) and in Durban (2011) to provide financial help for developing countries to adapt to and fight against the effects of climate change.
“All parties need to have a very clear idea of how they will use the US$100 billion a year that have been promised between now and 2020,” emphasised the Executive Secretary of the climate conference, Christiana Figueres.
In May, preparatory talks held in Bonn, Germany, resulted - albeit with some difficulty - in the establishment of a working programme for negotiation groups. The EU has stated its aims for the Bangkok talks: delegates must clarify ways of resolving remaining questions on the length of the new commitment period after 2012, the possibility of setting more ambitious goals for reducing emissions in order to achieve the objective of limiting the global temperature rise to 2°C, and rules and methods of applying them - in order that these can be finalised in Doha (a transition period until the new agreement, which will succeed the Kyoto Protocol, is reached). The EU also believes it is necessary to define the manner of concluding the working group on long-term cooperation.
Finally, negotiators will also continue efforts to convince countries that have refused to commit to the Kyoto Protocol - such as the United States and Canada - to sign up. Japan and Russia have already announced that they will not commit for a second period.