Bangkok/Sydney: Negotiators for some 160 nations are struggling to reach an agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions as rich and developing countries dispute solutions.
“The deadline is quite tough because there are so many issues we haven’t solved,” Kyoji Komachi, Japan’s ambassador for global environment, said in Bangkok on Monday.
Day one: Delegates at the opening session of the five-day Bangkok climate change talks in the Thai capital on Monday.
The timing is “very, very tight,” said Su Wei, director general of China’s office of national leading group on climate change.
The world’s biggest economies and developing countries are meeting in Bangkok this week to discuss ways to cap emissions, after agreeing in December to negotiate a new treaty by 2009 to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
The US hasn’t ratified that agreement, arguing fast growing nations such as China should also curb emissions, while China wants developed countries to do more.
“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 Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).
Helping developing countries finance the fight against climate change will be among top priorities in Bangkok, de Boer said in an interview on Sunday. UNFCC said last week it aims for emissions to peak in 10-15 years at the latest.
“We have to work very hard with a strong will to meet the deadline,” Su said. “Our concern is that developed countries should contribute more.”
The Kyoto Protocol requires developed nations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming in the five years through 2012. The Bangkok meet is the first of eight planned to negotiate the replacement accord. The final summit will be in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.
The European Union and the US caused the build up of the world’s emissions, accounting for more than half of cumulative emissions from 1900 to 2005, while China and India contributed 8% and 2%, respectively, the Paris-based International Energy Agency said in November.
“I know that the time is short but the state of our planet requires us to be ambitious in what we aim for,” UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said today in a taped statement to the Bangkok conference.
Negotiators are seeking agreements on the extent to which countries should reduce emissions, as well as financial and technological assistance to developing countries. “You should not expect us to finalize things this week,” Harald Dovland, an adviser to Norway’s environment ministry, chairing a discussion group at the conference, said in Bangkok.
At the December talks in Bali, Indonesia, the US succeeded in diluting a call for mandatory cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases by industrialized nations.
The US , which holds a presidential election in November, is seeking to accelerate efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, Harlan Watson, a senior climate negotiator and special representative of the US department of state, said in Bangkok. “We believe that views we are pushing forward here will be very compatible with our next administration,” Watson said. The effect of a US recession on the nation’s contribution to combating climate change is “one of the big concerns,” he said.
Mathew Carr in London contributed to this story.