The UN Bangkok Climate Change talks got underway on Monday, the first major United Nations-sponsored meeting on climate change after the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last year in December. At Bali, Parties agreed to step up international efforts to combat climate change and to launch formal negotiations to come to a long-term international agreement in Copenhagen by the end of 2009.
The Bangkok meeting is designed to both map out a work program that will lead to that agreement and to advance work on the rules through which emission reduction targets of developed countries can be met.
The meeting opened with warnings that the clock is ticking down to prepare an agreement in time to enter into force when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2013.
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change pointed out that three months had already elapsed since the Bali conference and that a draft of a future agreement would need to be ready well before Copenhagen.
“This leaves us with around one and a half years – a very short time-frame within which to complete negotiations on one of the most complex international agreements that history has ever seen,” said the UN’s top climate change official. “But I am confident that it can be done if the work is broken down into manageable, bite-sized chunks,” he added.
One of the main challenges for negotiators over the next 21 months will be reintroducing the U.S. into a global system of emissions reductions, The International Herald Tribune reports.
Prior to the talks, 26 submissions were published this month on the Web site of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as part of the ongoing negotiations. The U.S. has already rejected one of those, Bloomberg reports. A Chinese proposal that developed countries should contribute a percentage of their gross domestic product to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Indeed, how the burden will be shared between rich nations, led by the U.S., and developing countries such as China and India, will be a top focus, Reuters reports.
Delegates from 163 countries are attending the talks, which has so far attracted a total of around 1200 participants, including government representatives, participants from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions.
The next UN meeting involving negotiations under both working groups will take place in June in Bonn this year, followed by a third meeting in August and a fourth at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan in December.