Mixed reactions to outcome of Bangkok meeting
By Anne Eckstein | Thursday 06 September 2012
The last informal session of negotiations ahead of the United Nations climate conference in Doha (26 November-7 December), held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 30 August to 5 September, achieved few real advances, judging by comments made after the meeting.
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), seemed isolated in her optimism. She noted that “the investment in Bangkok produced results” and enabled Kyoto Protocol member states to achieve real progress on key questions. Figueres acknowledged that there are still tough questions ahead but finds that “there is now positive impetus and a greater sense of convergence that will stimulate political discussions at the highest level in the run-up to Doha”.
In a comment posted on Twitter, Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard simply takes note of the EU delegation’s “positive reports” from Bangkok and the “constructive mood and progress”. That is “the spirit we need before Doha and the new agreement in 2015”. The developing countries and NGOs, on the other hand, are far more critical. They note that “the more the negotiations advance, the clearer it becomes that the Doha summit will approve a plan aimed at taking no climate action over the next ten years”.
In December 2011, in Durban, South Africa, 194 parties to the UNFCCC agreed a set of decisions – the ‘Durban platform’ – that includes the launch of negotiations for a new protocol or legal instrument that would apply to all its members, a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, launch of the Green Climate Fund to help the developing countries cope with climate change impacts, and precise objectives for the Doha meeting.
According to the UNFCCC, the Bangkok negotiations moved forward on these objectives, particularly by tabling a document that describes what needs to be done to resolve the countries’ differences of opinions. One such difference of opinion, which concerns the future of the Kyoto Protocol, is the question of the future of surplus carbon credits (assigned amount units or AAUs) in the framework of a second Kyoto commitment period. It is nowhere close to being resolved, given the vastly differing EU and Russian positions, to say nothing of the fact that it has not even been resolved within the EU.
But progress was made on the architecture of a mechanism to strengthen international climate competition and on financing of the initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). The negotiators also discussed measures needed to negotiate a new global climate agreement to be adopted in 2015 for entry into force in 2020, as well as ways of reducing GHG emissions more quickly. However, nothing is settled in terms of who is going to make concessions or how the new treaty will function in practice.
What is particularly worrying is that the developing countries express in a joint statement their concerns that the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol “is eroding before our eyes”. They call on the developed nations to raise their commitments “without conditions”.
Environmental NGOs accuse the United States and “its allies” of unravelling the main achievements of Durban, including the decision for a second Kyoto commitment period. They also slam the EU for its inability to increase its emissions reductions, and other industrialised countries, like Australia, for dragging their feet on implementing the promises made in Durban.
Nothing is settled in terms of who is going to make concessions or how the new treaty will function in practice