Delegates from up to 190 nations are meeting in Bangkok until tomorrow for the first round of UN talks on a sweeping new pact to fight climate change. The Bangkok meeting is the first formal UN negotiations on a UN climate treaty since the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated from 1995-97.
WHY A NEW TREATY?
• The UN Climate Panel last year blamed human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, for a warming it said would bring ever more droughts, heat waves, floods and rising seas.
• The panel said world emissions of greenhouse gases — now rising fast — would have to peak by about 2015 and then fall sharply to limit a rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 C above pre-industrial times.
• Spurred by the panel’s findings, governments agreed in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007 to work out a new climate treaty by the end of 2009 to succeed Kyoto. Bangkok will be the first stop on the “Bali road map.”
WHAT’S WRONG WITH KYOTO?
• Kyoto obliges 37 developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of at least 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Bangkok talks will be about widening action to all nations.
• Developing nations say they are willing to do more to curb the growth of their emissions — but reject Kyoto-style caps because they need to use more energy to reduce poverty.
WHAT WILL BE ACHIEVED?
• Bangkok’s main task is to agree to a work program for the next two years — the details may show how urgently governments want to tackle climate change. After Bangkok, negotiators will meet in Bonn in June, again in August in a city yet to be decided and environment ministers will meet in Poznan, Poland, in December. Bangkok is symbolically important as the first step on the road to a deal to be agreed in Copenhagen in late 2009.
WHAT’S THE HURRY?
• The United Nations says a new treaty needs to be in place by the end of 2009 to give national parliaments time to ratify before Kyoto runs out. A big worry is it took two years to negotiate Kyoto and then eight to get it ratified.
• And investors need time — a power company trying to decide whether to build a coal-fired plant or a wind farm wants to know the rules on greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
WHAT ARE STUMBLING BLOCKS?
• A main issue will be how to ensure a fair share-out of the burden of curbs on greenhouse gases between rich and poor. Developing nations want more green technologies, credits for slowing deforestation and far more aid to help them adapt to the impact of climate change such as droughts and rising seas.