UN Climate Change Conference highlights progress and divisions on central issues
Bangkok, 8 April 2011 - On the final day of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bangkok (3-8 April), UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said that while positive and constructive, the meeting in Thailand had also highlighted continuing divisions between governments that needed to be resolved in the course of the year in order to come to a strong outcome in Durban in December.
A central issue governments discussed in Bangkok was the future of the Kyoto Protocol, which includes the only current international set of accounting rules to protect environmental integrity. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
"Discussions in Bangkok under the Kyoto Protocol importantly shifted from a focus on what should happened with regard to the future of the protocol to how it will happen," Ms. Figueres said. "It is significant that there is a strong desire to build on the Kyoto rules and a desire to find a political solution in 2011.
Picking up on the climate change agreements reached in Cancun at the end of last year, governments began organising their work of 2011 in Bangkok. Ms. Figueres said that most developed countries had focussed on the implementation of the Cancun Agreements, whilst developing countries put a stronger emphasis on resolving issues not agreed in Cancun, including the future of the Kyoto Protocol.
"Governments are conscious a middle ground is needed to reassure all sides, and that means capturing unfinished tasks resulting from the action plan agreed in Bali in 2007, as well as clarity on tasks agreed in Cancun," Ms. Figueres said. "Governments now need to use the common understandings reached in Bangkok to initiate work at the next session and from now on, time must be used wisely," she added.
In order to achieve clarity on the emission reduction pledges of countries, an important workshop took place in Bangkok on industrialised country emission reduction targets and the conditions for meeting them. Another workshop was held on developing country mitigation actions, looking at what these actions mean and what level of support they might need.
An expert workshop on the Technology Mechanism agreed in Cancun also took place in Thailand, looking into practical issues such as what the network should look like, who should be included in it, and how effective participation of relevant institutions be ensured.*
Ms. Figueres pointed that meeting the long-term challenge of climate change required increasingly strong international agreements, backed by national policies that incentivise all sides to take aggressive and collective action on a global scale.
"The UNFCCC is the place where governments have committed to act together on climate change," she said. "At home, under their different political systems, they need to create the right policies to do so. This is not an 'either/or' choice, it has to be a package. No country can hope to go it alone," she emphasized.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Bangkok has been attended by around two thousand participants from 175 countries, including government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organisations and research institutions. It is conceptually the first part of a three-week session, which will resume in Bonn, Germany, on 6 June 2011.
*An overview of government presentations given at the mitigation and technology workshops can be found at:
About the UNFCCC
With 194 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 been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC 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 commitments. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
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