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28 September 2009

UN climate talks kick off in Bangkok

Representatives from at least 20 United Nations agencies and hundreds of non-governmental (NGO) and civil society observers and activists gathered in Bangkok Sunday on the eve of Thailand’s hosting of two run-up climate change meetings for the December Copenhagen Climate Conference this week, Thailand’s state news agency TNA reported.

In nearly two weeks of official and informal sessions and at-the-sidelines meetings, the historic meeting will focus on setting a target for nations to cooperate in reducing the release of greenhouse effect gases and assisting developing countries in know-how and budget to achieve the target.

The US response to the issue is awaited as countries such as China, Australia and the European Union nations have already proposed reducing ‘greenhouse’ gas emissions by 40 percent, 25 percent and 30 percent respectively by 2020.

Bangkok negotiations will focus on reducing greenhouse gases in the range of 25-45 percent by 2017-2020 from the level in 1990.

Financing and seeking funds to achieve the planned target in developing countries will be on the agenda.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will give an overview of the expected process when he meets the media Tuesday afternoon in a briefing moderated by Noeleen Heyzer, UN under-secretary-general and Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) executive secretary.

In addition to ESCAP, other UN agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will participate in the briefing, expected to focus on the UN’s work in the region on climate change issues such as mitigation, adaptation, financing, capacity building and policy integration.

The ninth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the first part of the seventh session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) will be held at the UN Conference Centre in the Thai capital from Monday to October 9. Some 3,000 delegates from 192 countries will attend the meetings.

Most countries want a new climate pact that includes measures aimed at limiting temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels of about 150 years ago a level believed necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, but there has been no consensus on how to reach that goal.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva earlier expressed hope that the climate change meetings in Bangkok will give fruitful results before the Climate Conference in Copenhagen this December.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week opened the largest ever gathering of political leaders in New York to discuss climate change, warning that “failure to reach broad agreement in Copenhagen would be morally inexcusable, economically short-sighted and politically unwise."

China’s President Hu Jintao responded by pledging to contain the growth of his country’s emission of greenhouse gases, without being specific about the details, a move seen as key to getting the US to sign up to a new global deal.

US President Barack Obama said that the world must “seize the opportunity to make Copenhagen a significant step forward in the global fight against climate change”.

This week’s Bangkok meetings will show “whether the rich world is now serious about tackling climate change fairly and effectively,” said Tom Sharman, head of climate change for NGO ActionAid. "With less than three months to go, time is running out for a just global deal to be agreed this December.

The world’s nations will meet in Copenhagen from December 7-19 to try to reach a deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. 



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