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Bangkok Climate Talks: A step back?

12 April 2011
Bangkok Climate Talks: A step back?

With the completion of 2011's first set of climate negotiations in Bangkok on April 8 2011, Alaa Khourdajie, Research Associate, The Climate Group, reports on the disagreements revolving around the negotiations for the new agenda.

The first official round of climate negotiations for the year was wrapped up in Bangkok on April 8. In contrast to the Cancun Climate Summit, which concluded on a positive and optimistic note, these talks saw parties move back towards the kind of polarized atmosphere that was present during and after the 2009 Copenhagen Summit. Much of the disagreement revolved around a new agenda for guiding negotiations through the rest of the year.

Led by the BASIC group (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China), many developing and poor nations wanted an agenda based around the roadmap that was agreed at the 2007 Bali Climate Summit, rather than the Cancun Agreements which have a narrower focus. Developing countries consider that such an agenda would refocus the negotiations back on the Kyoto Protocol track, and clarify both the new emission pledges by the rich nations and the funding sources for the new Green Climate Fund, which countries agreed to establish in Cancun. This proposal to return to the Bali roadmap as the basis for guiding negotiations was, however, seen by many developed countries as an attempt to renegotiate the Cancun Climate Agreements

The issue of the Kyoto Protocol’s future looks set to be a major point of contention this year. Developing countries want the Kyoto Protocol to be extended after 2012 for a second phase. However, Japan, Russia, and Canada have all stated that they will not sign up to further commitments under the treaty. This reflects what they consider to be a fundamental problem with Kyoto Protocol, namely that not all the major economies are included, particularly the two biggest emitters; the US and China.

UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, stated that this situation is increasing the uncertainty on the implementation of the outcomes agreed in Cancun, as well as the possibility of having a gap period between Kyoto and a successor agreement.

In the end parties did manage to agree an agenda and to work towards a comprehensive and balanced outcome at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban which will take place at the end of the year. A compromise was reached by parties agreeing to address the implementation of the Cancun Agreements as well as issues that were not resolved at Cancun, but which are part of the comprehensive Bali roadmap.

Despite these outcomes, the spirit of the talks will need to be more positive in the remaining rounds ahead of the Durban Climate Conference in November. The next meeting is in June in Bonn, Germany. If the atmosphere that prevailed in Bangkok is not reversed when parties reconvene in the summer, then the chances of a decisive agreement in Durban will continue to fade.

Analysis of 2010 Cancun Climate Summit

Read more about 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit

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