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 October 09, 2009
Some Progress in Bangkok - But Will It Be Enough?

 Bangkok - The penultimate negotiating session before the historic UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December wrapped up in the Thai capitol Bangkok with some progress made on what needs to constitute the "bricks and mortar" of the Copenhagen agreed outcome. But continued lack of clarity on key deliverables makes doubtful a successful international climate change deal this year. 

"A will has emerged in Bangkok to build the architecture to rapidly implement climate action," said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, "but significant differences remain. In December, citizens everywhere in the world will have a right to know exactly what their governments will do to prevent dangerous climate change. It is time now to step back from self interest and let the common interest prevail," he added. 

Parties made progress on the issues of adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building. They also reached agreement on technical issues such as forests, which according to UNEP’s Science Compendium 2009 released in September, play a critical role in emissions reduction.

But little progress was made on the issue of mid-term emission reduction targets for industrialised countries, and clarity is lacking on the issue of finance that developing countries need to undertake additional actions to limit their emissions growth and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change. 

"A good example with regard to what industrialised countries can do to increase the level of their ambition in the context of an international agreement at Copenhagen is the minus 40% emissions reduction target announced by Norway today," the UN’s top climate change official said.

The negotiations in Thailand will be followed by five days of pre-Copenhagen negotiations in Barcelona (2-6 November) before the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (7-18 December). "Negotiators have three weeks back in their capitals to receive guidance from their political leaders to complete their work," said Yvo de Boer. "Bold leadership must open the roadblocks around the essentials of targets and finance that the negotiators can complete their journey," he added. 

Heads of state and government meeting in New York in September identified five politically essential issues to a deliver a comprehensive, fair and effective Copenhagen agreement: 

1.   Enhanced action to assist the most vulnerable and the poorest to adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

2.   Clarity must be provided on ambitious emission reduction targets of industrialised countries.

3.   Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries with the necessary support.

An aggregate emission reduction by industrialised countries of between minus 25% and 40% over 1990 levels would be required by 2020, and that global emissions would need to be reduced by at least 50% by 2050, in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

4.   The Copenhagen agreed outcome needs to generate scaled-up financial and technological resources, with a mechanism put in place that would funds to be generated automatically over time.

5.   Finally, they have agreed that the Copenhagen deal needs to create an equitable governance structure to manage funds for adaptation and mitigation that address the needs of developing countries.

With 192 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has to date 184 member Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction committments.

For More Information: United Nations Environment Programme