After two weeks of talks, presentations and debates, the Bangkok Climate Change Talks ended Friday to mixed reviews. The talks are a prelude to a major climate change summit in Copenhagen in December called Cop15.
The chief of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change says "significant advances" have been made. Yvo de Boer says they can be used as a foundation for a new climate-change protocol in Copenhagen.
U.S. delegation head Jonathan Pershing says the Obama administration is working toward a new policy, but adds it will take time. He says reaching "common ground" will require "a substantial amount of additional work…creativity, flexibility and practicality." Pershing spoke of the role of developed countries in slowing climate change.
"Developed countries would continue to lead…by committing to economy-wide major emissions reductions in the near term and largely decarboninzing their economies by mid-century," he says.
Proposed size of reduction<!-- IMAGE -->
Pershing says, "In our framework, we look for an 80 percent reduction in that time period. And for those who have followed the work of the U.S. senate during our two weeks, new legislation is being produced and introduced that will lead us down that path."
As for developing countries, he says, "For major, advanced developing country economies, we are seeking …national actions that can be quantified, measured. That will achieve meaningful reductions below business as usual in the mid-term," he says.
He adds, "We do not expect specific emission reduction commitments…from smaller and less advanced developing countries in the near term. The large majority of developing countries…should focus on creating low carbon development plans with support from the financial mechanism under the convention."
"Land use, including efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation, can make significant contributions and must be included in our deal," he says.
Was anything accomplished?
Tom Sharman, head of climate change for the NGO ActionAid, says, "I think we've seen very little progress. We've seen some progress in some technical issues, but the main big stumbling blocks are still there."
He says rich nations bear the responsibility to remove those obstacles.<!-- IMAGE -->
"(They) have so far failed to take the action they need to do that. They've failed to come up with meaningful targets on emission reductions. They've failed to put forward the money that's needed in order for developing countries to tackle climate change," he says.
He says prospects for a "just climate deal…(are) hanging by a thread. It's in serious trouble."
The U.S. says a climate deal will take time.
Sharman says, "Time is something we don't have. With every month or year of inaction the scale of the challenge only gets bigger. The amount of global warming that's happening gets larger. And that means the most vulnerable countries…face ever growing climate impact."
The U.S. has called for sustained technical and financial support for developing countries.
"The U.S. hasn't put a number on how much money is going to be available. Developing countries need about $200 billion a year by 2020 to enable to both cut their own emissions and…adapt to the climate change that is already inevitable," he says.
Sharman says just how the money would be raised from donors also remains unclear.
"They (developing countries) see that money as compensation. It's not a question of aid money. It's not a question of charity. It's a question of rich countries fulfilling their historic responsibilities," he says.
ActionAid praises Norway's decision at the Bangkok talks to "increase its unilateral emissions reduction target to 40 percent on 1990 levels by 2020."
"Forty percent is really the minimum target that all rich countries should be signing up to," he says.
More climate talks for scheduled for Barcelona in November, prior to the Copenhagen meeting.<!-- IMAGE -->