Climate Change Updated

Greetings from Bangkok. For those interested in the Climate Change talks, here is the update from United Nations Bangkok on the Climate Change Convention talks.

Yesterday was the first day of the negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol. For those interested, the Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.

The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so. Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. The Kyoto Protocol first commitments will end in 2012 and hence the negotiation to begin a new commitment is now on. USA however is not signatory to the protocol.

Yesterday in her opening address to the talks, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres warned that breakthroughs made at the last summit in the Mexican resort of Cancun could be jeopardised by the stalemate over the Kyoto Protocol. She said that "The full implementation of the Cancun agreements can only become an important step forward for the climate if there's a responsible and clear way ahead on the Kyoto Protocol."

There were heated discussions with one island nation even suggesting that USA should not even be in the room if they are not willing to be party to the Kyoto Protocol and the countries position look unchanged from previous positions. Japan and Russia continue to firmly opposed extending the protocol because it excludes the world's two biggest polluters, China and the United States and without these two any Kyoto Protocol would only cover about 30 percent of global emissions. Australia has also said it would only agree to a second round of commitments if all major emitters were part of the process. Developing countries, including China, did not have to commit to cutting emissions as part of the Kyoto Protocol and most of them maintain this should remain the case.

If this remain unchanged in Bangkok and the next meeting in Bonn in June, there is the likelihood of the Kyoto Protocol commitments expiring with only a framework of non-legally binding pledges from most developed and developing countries to fill the void.

The meetings are now stuck in identifying the agenda of the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA. It feels like we are watching the world moving towards a disaster scenario in slow motion and there is nothing our delegation can do about it.

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